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An introduction to copyright and intellectual property for CIT students and staff

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) is defined by IP Australia as "a term that describes the application of the mind to develop something new or original. IP can exist in various forms; a new invention, brand, design or artistic creation."

Types of IP include: Copyright, Patents, Trademarks, Design, Circuit layout rights, Plant breeders rights and Trade secrets.

With the exception of Copyright and Circuit layout rights, which are automatic, all other types of intellectual property need to be registered to ensure they are legally protected.


To learn more about IP and copyright view this video:Understanding Intellectual Property and Creative Commons

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects the original expression of ideas. More than one person can have the same idea, it is how they express the idea that is protected by copyright. A copyright work is protected as soon as it is in material form (e.g. written down).

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) is the law that sets out how copyright works are protected in Australia.

Watch this video by John Gibbs for more information about how copyright works .



What does copyright protect?

The Copyright Act 1968 protects a variety of works including the following: literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works. It also protects broadcasts, film, sound recordings and published editions.


Examples of the types of works protected by copyright include; books, art, photographs, sheet music, plans, video, music and web content.

What rights does the copyright owner have?

The Copyright Act 1968 provides the copyright owner with a number of exclusive rights. Including the the rights to: reproduce, communicate, make public, perform and adapt the work.


Copyright is infringed when the copyright owner’s rights are exercised without their permission.

Who owns the copyright work?

When you create a copyright work you may not automatically obtain the rights of ownership. Ownership will depend on the type of work, and/or any agreements made between you and the client/employer.


For example, usually your employer will own the intellectual property/copyright you create as part of your employment, unless you have signed an agreement to the contrary.


See the Australian Copyright Council's Ownership information sheet for more information.

How long does copyright last?

Generally the length of copyright protection in Australia is the life of the creator plus 70 years. This may vary depending on the type of copyright work and when it was created. For more information see the Smartcopying website.

When the period of copyright protection ends, the work is considered to be in the 'public domain' and can be used without the need to seek a licence/permission from the copyright owner.

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