Graphic designers and copyright
The copyright notice
The copyright notice is not required for protection in Australia
and in most other countries, but it notifies people that the work is protected
and identifies the person claiming the rights. Copyright owners can put
the notice on their work themselves; there is no formal procedure. The notice
consists of the symbol ©, followed by the name of the copyright owner
and the year of first publication, for example: © Eric Gill Jr 2002.
Rights of copyright owners
Owners of copyright have the exclusive right to do certain
things with their material. For example, owners of copyright in artistic
works have the exclusive right to:
† reproduce the work: for example, by photocopying, scanning and digitising;
† make the work public for the first time;
† communicate the work to the public: for example, faxing or emailing it, broadcasting it, or uploading it to a website.
Owners of copyright in “published editions”, however, only have the narrow exclusive right to make a “facsimile copy” of that edition.
Who owns copyright?
The general rule under the Copyright Act is that the creator
of an artistic work is the first owner of copyright.
There are, however, a number of exceptions to this general rule. The major exceptions affecting graphic designers are:
† where an employee creates a copyright work in the course of his or her employment;
† where an employee of a newspaper creates a copyright work in the course of his or her employment;
† where a person creates a copyright work for a State, Territory or Commonwealth government, or a work that is first published by a State, Territory or Commonwealth government.
These exceptions are explained in the following paragraphs. However, you should note that people involved in creating copyright material can reach any agreement they wish
as to who will own copyright. The rules we discuss here only apply in the event that no agreement is reached.
Nonetheless, whether you want the rules in the Copyright Act to apply or not, it is always a good idea to have a written agreement about who will own copyright in any situation where you are creating copyright material for a client, or where more than one person is involved in creating copyright material.