If you’re an author, artist, musician or filmmaker, upcoming changes to terms of copyright protection could affect you.

10 December 2018

On 1 January 2019, amendments to copyright duration under the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017 come into effect. For the first time in Australia, a copyright term will apply to unpublished materials (which currently have unlimited copyright protection). These changes are designed to simplify and harmonise copyright terms, and will enable appropriate access to historic unpublished materials held in our museums, libraries and other cultural institutions.

What it might mean for you

New standard terms of protection will apply to works, sound recordings and films that are not made public as at 1 January 2019, or that are created or made public on or after 1 January 2019. For some older unpublished materials, such as works created over 70 years ago, the new terms will have the effect that copyright in the material will expire by 1 January 2019. For copyright materials published before 1 January 2019, the current duration rules will not change.

If you own the copyright for any unpublished literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, sound recording or film, you may wish to consider publishing, or otherwise making your material public, before 1 January 2019. This may give you a longer copyright term in some circumstances as the current duration rules will apply.

What the new rules are

New copyright protection terms 70 years after making, 50 years for commonwealth state or territory

  • For works (including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works), the standard term will be 70 years after the death of the author of the work.
  • For works where the author is unknown, the standard term will be 70 years after the making of the work unless the work is made public within 50 years of its making, in which case the term will be 70 years after first being made public.
  • For sound recordings and films, the standard term will be 70 years after the making of the sound recording or film unless the material is made public within 50 years of its making, in which case the term will be 70 years after first being made public.
  • For Crown copyright material (where the Commonwealth or a State or Territory is the copyright owner), the standard term will be 50 years after the making of the material

Who can I talk to about these changes?

For more information on how these changes may affect you, contact our copyright [at] communications.gov.au (copyright team).

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