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This information is general and introductory in nature and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend you seek advice from a qualified lawyer on any specific legal issues affecting you.

  • How do I protect my copyright?

    In Australia, copyright protection does not depend upon registration, publication or any other procedure. Material is automatically protected by law from the time it is first written down or taped. Your ownership of copyright should be indicated by a copyright notice that is recognised internationally. The notice consists of the symbol © (or the word ‘copyright’), the name of the copyright owner, and the year of first publication.

    For comprehensive information about copyright, contact the Australian Copyright Council.

  • How do I get permission to use someone else’s words, images or music?

    Clearing permissions for use of third party material can be an author’s most time-consuming task, so it’s best to start the process as soon as possible. The following sites may help track down copyright owners:

    Australian Performing Rights Association/AMCOS (clearance for music and song lyrics)

    Copyright Agency: a starting point for text clearances

    VISCOPY: clearances for works by visual artists

    The ASA has also published an article by Gabe McGrath Don’t ask forgiveness, seek permission, which provides information for authors on when to ask permission, who to ask, how to ask and potential costs.

  • I’m writing about real people. What legal issues should I be aware of?

    There is no law that prevents writers from representing real people or real-life events. However, writers should familiarise themselves with the kinds of claims that may be made against them on the grounds of defamation, as well as the various forms of defence. Lisa Southgate’s Ask the ASA article "Will I get sued?" provides detailed information about defamation and the conditions under which a work may be considered defamatory. For further information please contact the Arts Law Centre of Australia.

    You might also consider people’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Check whether your publication will be caught by privacy legislation. In Australia, it usually won’t, as privacy legislation does not cover individuals acting in their personal capacity, rather it imposes obligations on the public sector and most businesses. Even so, you might consider whether it is appropriate to ask permission before disclosing someone’s personal information. And lastly, consider whether information you have obtained about real people was provided to you under an obligation of confidence (such as a Non-Disclosure Agreement), which will prevent publication.

  • Who should I contact for arts legal advice?

    The Arts Law Centre of Australia has an online advice form as well as online resources for artists and arts organisations.

    The Arts Law Centre of Australia can answer queries and provide resources on a range of topics including copyright, moral rights, designs and patents, privacy and image rights, business names and structures, defamation, insurance and liability, Indigenous cultural and intellectual property, mediation and dispute resolution, wills and estates. Visit

  • My ebook has been pirated. What can I do?

    The ASA has published a short article by Internet engineer Stephen Hart on Fighting Piracy. The article includes information about how to find pirate copies of your work, have the files removed, automate this process and further resources.

    You can also seek the assistance of a lawyer to investigate and, if appropriate, take action against ebook piracy.

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© 2017 Australian Society of Authors (ASA)