What is a copyright infringement?


Did you accidentally say something that is copyrighted? Is someone monetising from something you said on social media? 

In today’s digital world, content can be found anywhere, and with easy access to social media, it’s only natural to want to share what we see with the world, be it a video, quote, or a new song. 

But what happens when you share copyrighted content? Are you liable to pay? And when should you protect your intellectual property from others? Where do we draw the line between theft and inspiration?

In this article we’ll explore what is copyrightable and what you need to do if you’re accused of using protected intellectual property.

What is copyright and what is copyrightable?

Every intellectual property produced and created in Australia is automatically protected by The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Copyright Act). The Act protects the original way authors express their ideas and information in writing, pictures, music, and movies. It provides them exclusive rights to use their work however they like including copying, publishing, sharing, and selling.

Some examples of what copyright can protect include:

  • Books, articles, and other written content
  • Songs and other musical works
  • Movies and TV shows
  • Photographs, paintings, and other visual works
  • Software programs
  • Website designs

See the fact sheet on Australian Copyright Council’s website.

However, copyright only protects how these ideas and information are expressed, not the ideas and information themselves.

How can I copyright my content?

The good news is that in Australia, you don’t need to register for copyright. As soon as an idea is created and documented, it’s automatically protected.

What can I do if I suspect someone is profiting from my work?

As a first step, you can send a Cease and Desist letter to the individual or business requesting them to stop. If the recipient does not respond or comply with the request, speak to a lawyer. Our Find A Lawyer tool can help you find a solicitor who specialises in intellectual property law.

What can I do if I’m accused of using protected intellectual property?

Immediately stop the alleged infringing conduct. This isn’t an admission of guilt but shows that you are willing to cooperate and discourages the owner to commence legal proceedings. Take this opportunity to seek legal advice to help you understand your legal rights and options.

Stay informed. Visit the Australian Copyright Council website for fact sheets, detailed guides, and training programs.

Or get in touch with a professional, visit our Find A Lawyer tool to find a solicitor who specialises in intellectual property law.