Copyright, much like Rights, is one of those topics that we, as writers, know we should know about but only truly research when it personally relates to us. So here are some copyright tips to bear in mind.
In Australia and many other countries, due to international treaties, copyright laws ensure that as soon as we print words onto paper, or even record words on to tape, they are protected - automatically. There is no need to fill in lengthy forms or send off work, and even the standard copyright notice, © followed by the creator’s name and the year of the work’s creation, is for information more than for protection.
By the way, if you choose to use it, the © symbol is made on MS Word by typing a lower case c in brackets.
Who owns Copyright?
In most cases the writer of the work owns copyright, but there are exceptions.
For example, if:
1) you give or sell all rights and ownership to another party.
2) you are writing for a newspaper or magazine. Here the lines of ownership get a little blurred due to an Act released in July 1998, and it’s vital to be aware of the contract you are signing with the editors.
3) you are writing for Australian Government departments and agencies. Most keep copyright of any work written for them, regardless of whether you’re an employee or a freelancer at the time.
4) your piece of work is created for an employer (not a contractor). In this case, unless prearranged the work belongs to your employer.
With regards to 4), are you familiar with the ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ example? The children’s characters are now world famous and raking in a fortune for the copyright owners, who are not the gentlemen who thought up the concept, but the ABC who were paying the men’s wages at the time. If the creators had been working freelance for the ABC the outcome would no doubt have been different.