Please select Menu Source

How Can I Get a Copyright in Australia?

Navigating the legal landscape can feel like wading through a dense jungle, particularly when it comes to copyright law. It’s an intricate field that can leave even the most well-intentioned creators feeling lost. But don’t worry, I’m here to help shed some light on the path to obtaining copyright in Australia.

Free Consultation

Free 15-minute consultation for Copyright matters
with our experienced lawyers.

Do I need a copyright in Australia?

The first question many creators ask is, “Do I need a copyright in Australia?” The answer, like many aspects of law, isn’t black and white.

    • Automatic Protection: The beautiful thing about copyright law in Australia is that it automatically protects your original works of authorship. This means that as soon as you create and put an original work into a tangible form – be it a song, a novel, or a painting – you hold the copyright. In other words, you don’t need to register for copyright to enjoy its protection.

    • Proof of Ownership: However, having a registered copyright can provide solid proof of ownership, which can be incredibly helpful if your work is infringed upon. It’s a bit like having an umbrella – you hope you’ll never need it, but when a storm hits, you’ll be glad you have it.

    • Peace of Mind: There’s also a certain peace of mind that comes with having your copyright officially registered. It offers a security blanket, reinforcing the fact that your creative work is truly yours.

Someone is using my copyright, what can I do in Australia?

Infringement of copyright can feel like a personal violation, a direct attack on your hard work and creativity. It’s a situation no creator wants to find themselves in. But if it does happen, it’s important to know your rights and the steps you can take to protect your work in Australia.

    • Speak with a Copyright Lawyer: This is the first and arguably most important step. Consulting with a copyright lawyer will ensure you understand the nuances of your case and the legal avenues available to you.

    • Cease and Desist Letter: Often, the first line of defense is sending a cease and desist letter to the infringer. This is a formal document that informs the infringer of their infringement and demands they stop using your work.

    • Legal Action: If the cease and desist letter doesn’t do the trick, legal action might be your next step. This could involve filing a lawsuit against the infringer, seeking damages, and requesting an injunction to prevent further infringement.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Register for Copyright in Australia

While copyright is automatically granted in Australia, you may still wish to register your copyright for additional protection. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

    • Create Your Work: This might seem obvious, but your work needs to exist in a tangible form before it can be copyrighted. This could be a literary piece, a piece of music, or even a film. The key is that it must be original and creative.

    • Consult with a Copyright Lawyer: Before diving into the registration process, it can be beneficial to consult with a copyright lawyer. They can provide guidance and help ensure your work is indeed eligible for copyright protection.

    • Document Your Creation Process: While not required, documenting your creative process can be beneficial. This might include early drafts, sketches, or any notes that demonstrate the progression of your work.

    • Apply for Registration: Technically, there’s no official copyright registration in Australia. However, you can register with organizations such as the Australian Copyright Council or IP Australia. They offer services to help you establish a public record of your work.

    • Keep Evidence of Your Work: Always keep a dated copy of your work. This can serve as evidence of your ownership should you ever need to defend your copyright.

    • Celebrate: Once you’ve completed these steps, take a moment to celebrate! You’ve taken a significant step in protecting your creative work.

Documents Needed for Copyright Registration

While there’s no official copyright registration in Australia, if you decide to register your work with a copyright agency or similar body, you’ll likely need to provide certain documents. These may include:

    • Proof of Identity: You’ll need to provide proof of your identity. This could be a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID.

    • Proof of Work: You’ll need to provide a copy of your work. This could be a physical or digital copy, depending on the nature of your work.

    • Application Form: You’ll need to fill out an application form. This will likely include details about you, your work, and its creation.

Remember, these are general guidelines. Always check with the specific organization to see what they require.


Embarking on the journey to copyright your work may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and support, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you choose to rely on automatic copyright protection or seek the peace of mind that comes with registration, remember that your work is valuable and worth protecting.

Remember, in the event of a copyright infringement, consult with a copyright lawyer immediately. They can guide you through the process and help ensure your rights are protected.


Does copyright protect everything I create? 

Copyright protects artistic, literary, dramatic, or musical works, as well as films, sound recordings, broadcasts, and published editions. If your creation doesn’t fall into these categories, copyright does not apply.

When is a creation capable of copyright protection? 

A creation qualifies for copyright protection if it falls into one of the categories in the Copyright Act, is substantial (single words or titles don’t warrant protection), and is original, i.e., not copied.

How do I get a copyright in Australia? 

In Australia, if your work is capable of copyright protection, the protection is automatic upon creation. There’s no need for registration. As soon as you express your idea or concept in material form (e.g., take a photo or write it down), copyright arises and your work is protected.

What is the purpose of the copyright symbol ©? 

The © symbol notifies people that the work is protected by copyright. Its presence or absence doesn’t affect the existence of copyright over a work, but it is advisable to include it along with your name to inform others that the work is copyrighted and identify who owns the copyright.

Do I always own the copyright in my creations? 

Generally, if your creation is capable of copyright protection, you will own the copyright. However, there are exceptions such as when you have transferred your copyright to another party in writing, or if you created the material as an employee in the scope of your employment, among others.

How can I protect my idea for a story or movie? 

Copyright does not protect ideas, only their material expression. To protect your idea, you can rely on the law of confidential information and use a Confidentiality Agreement before you disclose your idea. This binds the recipient of the confidential information not to use your idea and gives you the right to claim damages in the event of unauthorized use.