A Brief Guideline to Copyright




If you wish to make copies of any material, the HDHS is not liable for any breach of copyright or other law that you may commit in copying any material from our Publications, Historical Records or from our Website.


Guidelines on what you can copy.


These copyright guidelines have been developed to assist you to determine whether you may be breaching any laws when you make copies of any material.


Please note that these guidelines do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely. They are merely guidelines. If you are unsure as to whether you have the legal right to copy material or to authorise us to make those copies, you must obtain your own legal advice.


Copyright Law.


Under the copyright laws of Australia, a person who owns copyright in a work has the exclusive right to make copies of that work. The copyright owner may permit others to make copies of the work. Copying  includes photocopying, scanning, faxing and digitising.


Before making any copies, you must ensure that you have the right to make copies.

Unless the work is your original creation, it is likely that someone else will own the copyright. If this is the case, you should ensure that you have the copyright owner's permission to make copies of the work, or that you have the right under the law to make copies.


As a general indication, just about anything which is in a material form, and can be copied, will be protected by copyright.


What kind of 'work' might be protected by copyright law?


Some of the material that can be protected by copyright includes:

• Books,  text,  newspapers,  magazines,  greeting  cards,  brochures and any 
  other printed material. 
• Maps and architectural drawings,  including house plans. 
• Photographs,  sketches,  drawings and graphics. 
• Musical scores and song lyrics. 
• Logos and designs.


It is important to bear in mind that copyright may exist in purely functional things, like a set of instructions, as well as in material which has more 'artistic' quality, like drawings.


The © Symbol


If you did not create the material that you intend to copy, you should look for the © symbol on the work. Copyright owners often (but not always) identify their claim to ownership by using the © symbol, followed by their name and the year that the work was created.


This is known as Copyright Notice.


If there is no Copyright Notice on the work, it is not safe to assume that no-one owns the copyright and you are free to copy it. While the existence of a Copyright Notice is helpful, it is not necessary for a Copyright Notice to be applied to work for copyright to exist in that work.


Copyright longevity.


Copyright protection for many types of works does not last forever. In many instances, copyright expires after 50 years from the end of the year that the author died.


For example, Beatrix Potter died in 1943. Therefore in 1993, Beatrix Potter's pictures and characters could be copied legally because their copyright had expired. If material is protected by copyright in this way, it is said to be in public domain. Material that is in public domain may be copied.


However, even if you are sure that the author of a work died more than 50 years ago, later editions of the same material may have been published recently.

These new editions may now be protected by copyright.


Other laws that you may need to consider.


Apart from copyright law (and in some cases as well as), other laws might apply if you intend to copy things like cheques, postage stamps or official documents.


While it may not be an offence to copy some of these things, it may be an offence if the copies are later mistaken for the real thing.


As a general guide, we suggest that for these types of things, copies should only be made in black and white if the originals are in colour and there may be the opportunity for the items to be mistaken for the real thing.You may stamp copy on any document which has the potential to be mistaken for the real thing.


In addition to copying in black and white only, it may be appropriate for such materials to be either enlarged to 150% of original size or reduced by 75%, depending on the material.


Unauthorised copying of copyright material.


If you copy a work that is protected, without the copyright owner's permission, the copyright owner may sue you. You may be sued even if you copy only a small part of the whole copyright work. A commonly misunderstood area is the so-called 10% rule. There is no such rule which allows you to copy 10% or less of a document.


For further information regarding copyright, please contact:


The Australian Copyright Council 
245 Chalmers Street 
Redfern NSW 2016 
Ph: 61 2 9318 1788 
Fax: 61 2 9698 3536