If you’re writing your first book and wondering how to copyright it, you’re in the right place – and we have some good news.
You don’t need to register for copyright in Australia! That’s right, the moment an idea or creative concept is penned to paper it is automatically copyrighted in Australia, thanks to the Copyright Act of 1968.
That being said, there is still a lot to understand when it comes to copyright in Australia, so let’s take a closer look at some other questions, like just what copyright is, what it entails, how long it lasts, and whether it applies to your book cover as well as the contents of your book.
Publish Central exists to help authors share their words with readers. We work to the highest design, editing and production standards, and partner with the same people and companies as the major publishers to produce our authors’ books. We have been helping self-publishers for almost 20 years. So if you’re in need of help with self-publishing your book, connect with us today and let’s make your dream a reality.
What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of legal protection that safeguards the original expression of ideas or information in various mediums such as writing, music, visual images, broadcasts, sound recordings, moving images, and computer programs.
For authors, copyright protection means that they have exclusive rights to their original written works, including novels, articles, poems, and other forms of literary expression. These rights allow authors to:
- Control the reproduction, distribution, and sale of their works.
- Grant or deny permission for others to create derivative works, such as translations, adaptations, or abridgments.
- Publicly perform or display their works, or authorise others to do so.
- Receive credit for their work by asserting their moral rights, which include the right to be attributed as the author and the right to preserve the integrity of their work.
Copyright protection ensures that authors can benefit financially from their creative efforts and maintain control over their intellectual property. However, copyright protection does have some limitations and exceptions. In Australia, these may include fair dealing provisions for purposes such as research, study, criticism, review, news reporting, or parody.
How long does copyright last in Australia?
In Australia, the duration of copyright protection varies depending on the type of copyrighted material and whether it has been made public. Generally, copyright lasts for:
- 70 years after the death of the author for literary, artistic, dramatic, and musical works. This means that the exclusive rights to these works are protected during the author’s lifetime and for an additional 70 years following their death.
- 70 years from the date of publication for sound recordings and films that have been made public. This ensures that the creators and producers of these works can benefit from and control their use for an extended period after the works have been released.
- 50 years from the date of broadcast for television and radio broadcasts. This offers a shorter period of protection compared to other forms of copyright material but still provides sufficient time for broadcasters to manage and profit from their content.
Once the copyright protection period expires, the material enters the public domain and can be used freely by anyone without the need to obtain permission or pay royalties to the original creators or copyright holders.
Can you copyright the title of a book?
Book titles cannot be protected by copyright since copyright law requires an original work to be longer than a single line. This means that short titles, slogans, phrases, and subtitles are not eligible for copyright protection.
However, book titles can be protected as series trademarks if they belong to a series of works under the same or similar titles. Examples of series trademarks include A Song of Ice and Fire, The Wheel of Time, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. In these cases, the titles represent a collection of works, and trademark protection can be applied to protect the titles in relation to the series.
Are book covers copyrighted?
Book covers can be subject to copyright protection, as they often contain artistic works such as illustrations, photographs, and unique designs.
In Australia, the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) reached an agreement in 2016 to allow libraries to use book covers for promotional purposes without the need for permission or payment. This agreement facilitates the promotion of books and authors by libraries without infringing on copyright.
To reproduce a book cover containing copyrighted material, one must either rely on a specific copyright exception or ensure that the reproduction falls within the scope of promotional use by a library as outlined in the APA/ALIA agreement. If neither of these conditions applies, permission must be sought from the copyright owner, which is usually the publisher.
Who owns copyright?
In general, the creator of a work is the original owner of the copyright. However, this ownership can be altered through a signed written agreement that stipulates different terms. When it comes to book covers, a major publisher can own the copyright if the cover is designed in-house. In such cases, the copyright ownership is typically transferred to the publisher as a result of the employment agreement.
For self-publishers, unless otherwise agreed with the cover designer, copyright for the cover design usually remains with the designer.
Choose Publish Central for all your self-publishing needs
At Publish Central, we provide the best in self-publishing services, education and resources. We offer a course on self-publishing, as well as a variety of self-publishing packages and services. We even provide coaching!
So whatever your needs when it comes to self-publishing, contact us today, and let’s get your book out to the world.