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Avoiding copyright infringement

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In recent times, there have been a number of media reports items alleging copyright infringement.  For example:

  • Australian real estate site AllHomes.com.au was alleged to have taken content from other real estate sites and posted the content on its own site
  • The “Down Under” song by Men At Work was found to incorporate a substantial part of the iconic Australian “Kookaburra Sits” song

The term “copyright” refers to a bundle of rights granted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) to protect the “expression of ideas” in a “material form”.  Works that are subject to copyright protection include those of a literary, artistic, dramatic, cinematographic or musical nature.

The owner of a copyright work has certain exclusive rights in relation to that work, including the right to reproduce the work; publish the work; make an adaptation of the work; perform the work in public and communicate the work to the public.  Essentially, a person will infringe copyright where it is shown that:

  • a substantial part of the copyright work has been copied.  Importantly for clients, the courts will assess the “quality” of what has been copied, not the “quantity”
  • there is similarity between the copyright work alleged to have been infringed, and the allegedly infringing copyright work
  • there is a causal connection between the copyright work and the allegedly infringing copyright work.

While the courts will assess each of the above elements on a case by case basis, we provide this simple flowchart to help you avoid or assess any claims of copyright infringement.

Mason Sier Turnbull often provides clients with advice on copyright infringement matters.  Please contact one of our intellectual property lawyers if you have any concerns regarding copyright infringement.