What is Australian Copyright Law?

Details of the Australian Copyright Act

Copyright is a number of different rights which the law grants exclusively to owners of copyright works.

If you are a composer of original music or a songwriter of lyrics, the Australian Copyright Act (1968) gives you the right to:

  1. Reproduce your work in material form (eg: make it available in
    physical or digital sound file format, as a lead sheet/chart or written lyrics)
  2. Publish your work: make it available to the public for the first time
    communicate your work to the public by various means including:
    – broadcast on radio or television
    – transmitted by cable to subscribers (eg: on pay TV)
    – over the Internet (eg: download/streaming services, such as
    Spotify, Apple Music)
  3. Make an adaptation of the work, for example, by translating the lyrics.

As a copyright owner of your original music and lyrics, these are your exclusive rights.

Nobody else can use your work in these ways without getting your permission first, and, where applicable, paying you a royalty for this use.

The length of time that a work remains in copyright including the period after the copyright owner has died. In Australia, copyright on a musical work continues for 70 years from the creator's death. In New Zealand, it continues for 50 years after death. It varies in other countries.


Pro Tip: Copyright law varies in every territory, so it is always a good idea to check the current copyright laws within your territory. 


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