I often get asked about copyright for digital design work in Australia that I’ve created, and what it amounts to. I’ve had a read of the IP Australia website and noted content outlined on their website.

When an idea or creative concept is documented electronically (i.e. on a computer) or on paper, it is automatically protected by copyright in Australia. This includes books, music, film, sound recordings, newspapers, magazines and (in my case) artwork.

The copyright law is governed by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and the Department of Communications and the Arts administers the law.


A quick guide to copyright in digital design


How copyright applies to code (for websites, for example).

When new software is created in the form of code, it’s protected by copyright as an original literary work. The code doesn’t need to be classified as original, in that nobody has written similar code before. Authors of the code need to demonstrate they’ve used skill and labour to create the software in question without blatently copying the code.

How to gain copyright protection

Unlike a trademark, patent or design, copyright does not require any form of registration as it is automatically generated when the work is created. This is great for designers in Australia, who have their work protected from the outset.


What copyright gives the creator

The owner of the copyright gets exclusive rights to;

  • make copies of the software
  • publish the software
  • communicate the sotware to the general public
  • make adaptations of the software
  • and more!


An idea isn’t protected under copyright

A specific form of expression is what is protected content, not an idea (as such). To protect functionality of software in Australia means that the copyright holder would need to apply for a patent with IP Australia.


This is just a really brief post, with some quick information regarding copyright in Australia that I thought I’d post and share on my website. As always, please visit the governing body website of your country if you’re an artist not from Australia.

To find out more, please visit the IP Australia website.