Helping you find government information and services

Intellectual property and copyright

Copyright information can often be difficult but it is essential, regardless of whether we are creating art or managing a collection of other people's work.

The Copyright Act 1968 is the legislation from which copyright law in Australia stems.

Computer software, CD-ROMs and the Internet have made compliance with copyright law more complex. It can be difficult to establish what are your rights and responsibilities.

It can take weeks for an organisation to give permission for use of an image. There can be charges related to using images. With online images the question is even more complex. Online images are easy to download onto your own computer and you are physically able to reuse them - even though it's illegal to do so without the proper clearances.

It's a new world for collection and management institutions who have online databases - organisations like the Australian War Memorial, the National Library of Australia and the State Library of Victoria. How do organisations comply with copyright requirements while developing online catalogues accessible to anyone with an Internet connection?

VISCOPY, Australasia's visual arts copyright collecting agency, representing 250,000 premier Australian and International visual artists, was designed to streamline the copyright process. VISCOPY represents many indigenous artists exclusively.

Copyright Guidelines cover

Copyright Guidelines cover

Copyright Guidelines for Museums and Galleries in a Digital Environment is a 10-page document that tells you when you need permission from a copyright owner, how to determine who is the owner of the copyright, what should be covered by permission to create and publish a digital image, how to document copyright ownership and manage clearances and other related concerns.

Please visit the Collections Australia Network website to download the document.

New legislation

As complex issues arise in the Intellectual Property sector, new legislation is developed to provide a regulatory framework for the protection of copyright. There have been amendments to deal with new challenges and emerging technologies.

Useful links

Last updated: 5th January 2007