Using the copyright symbol is a very effective way to protect our content. It signals to others that the content is protected under copyright law. But do we need to use it?
In Australia, Copyright laws were introduced by the Copyright Act 1968. The Act determines all rules and regulations affecting intellectual property.
According to an overview published by Creative Commons, the Act protects all works such as literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works and others such as films, sound recordings, broadcasts, or published editions. It can be rather complex, as the copyright exists independently of the material’s existence and can apply to it differently. Let’s take your favourite music album as an example. There may be separate copyright for the lyrics contained in each song, for the musical composition and arrangements and for the sound recordings. We must be aware of all this before we think about using a song or any other material in our content.
We need to understand that the Law protects the skills and labour taken by the creator producing a certain material. However, it does not cover the information or ideas expressed as such.
How does it apply
Under the Copyright Act 1968, it is forbidden to copy or reproduce, adapt publish, perform in public or broadcast any copyrighted material. The person who created any such material owns its copyright and only that person may allow others to use it.
Sometimes, the owner of the copyright obtains a license called Creative Commons. Under these licenses, the copyright owner allows the use of their material under some conditions. This license does not take any rights established under the Act, but it creates exceptions and limitations. The person using material under this license must always get permission to do so and they must credit the owner of the material. This is very important, we cannot simply copy and paste, we need to know first if we can do it and if we can, we must credit the owners.
Do we need to use the copyright symbol?
Technically you don’t. In Australia, Copyright is granted automatically when the material is created. Some countries may require a formal registration and payment of a fee to get the material copyrighted, but that is not required in Australia. However, I always use the symbol in all my blogs and website as an extra layer of protection. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have it there.