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Using copyright material

Generally, if a person wishes to use material where the copyright belongs to someone else, contact should be made with the owner of the copyright.

Information, and in some cases advice, can be sought from the Australian Copyright Council.

In some areas there are a large number of copyright owners and rather than contacting every owner, associations (called collecting societies) have been formed to collect royalty payments on behalf of their members who own the copyright.

In Australia these associations are:

  • Screenrights (formerly Audio-Visual Copyright Society): collects royalties from educational institutions on behalf of filmmakers, scriptwriters, music publishers, composers and other owners of copyright.
  • APRA AMCOS : the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) acts for owners of copyright in relation to public performance and broadcasting of musical works and the Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) for music copyright owners in collecting royalties for record manufacture, sheet music and some film making.
  • Copyright Agency Limited (CAL): which acts for authors and publishers in collecting photocopying fees from educational institutions and other organisations.
  • Phonographic Performance Company (PPCA): provides licences to Australian businesses to play recorded music/sound recordings in public.
  • VISCOPY: a copyright collecting society for visual artists.

The Copyright Council has a factsheet "Permission: How to Get It" which is a useful guide on how to locate a copyright owner and request permission.

Acts that do not infringe copyright

Certain fair dealings are not infringements of copyright in literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works, for example, fair dealing for the purpose of research or study [s 40, s 103C], for criticism or review [s 41, s. 103A], or the reporting of news [s 42, s 103B].

Fair dealing is the legitimate use or reproduction of part or all of copyrighted material by someone other than the copyright owner, for defined purposes.

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) contains many other specific exceptions: for instance, it is not an infringement if temporary reproductions are made as part of the technical process of making or receiving a non-infringing communication [s 43A and s 111A].

No infringement occurs if an artistic work is reproduced on film or television where that reproduction is only incidental to the principal matters represented in the film or broadcast [s 67].

Sculptures and works of artistic craftsmanship in a public place or premises open to the public may be reproduced in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or film without infringing copyright, but not if situated there temporarily [s 65]. Note: drawings and paintings are not included, and so this exception does not apply to mural paintings in public places.

There are also defences concerning the making of back-up copies by the owners of non-infringing copies of computer programs and other uses of computer programs for the purposes of making of interoperable productions, error correction or security testing [s 47AB — s 47H].

    Using copyright material  :  Last Revised: Mon Mar 21st 2016
    The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.