Week 4 – Copyright Law

It would take much more than one 3-hr lecture to cover the breadth of this large and complex topic.

I won’t attempt to cover the whole lecture but there were some notes I found incredibly important for me and probably for many people in my situation of budding filmmaker (currently 3/4 of the population hehe).

We were graced with the knowledge of Julian Davis who’s a lawyer. One thing I noticed about him, he looks like a lecturer and he has an incredible memory. What a legend.

We got a slideshow like this.. IMG_1737









I’ll dot point the important and relevant info to make it easier to digest.

First some interesting definitions:

Patent: method of creation, like method of baking bread.
Trademark: protecting your mark of trade, like a logo.
Passing Off: when someone has made a product that implies it’s related to another product when they’re not.
Originality: independent intellectual effort, but no merit, novelty or inventiveness. This means there’s been some thought at some level.

  • Australia is stricter in fair use and fair dealing. We don’t have as many exceptions as other countries do.
  • An international treaty is where other countries recognise other copyright acts from different countries on a list. So an American in Australia is recognised under Australian copyright laws. China is not on the list so that explains their fake iphones and whatnot.
  • In Australia you do not need to register to have copyright. Having the ‘c’ has no legal bearing, it’s just an indication that you’re claiming it.
  • To establish you have copyright you need to prove it with PTC (Public and territorial connection) which means you were either born here or published it here, respectively.
  •  Parody does not breach copyright of original work unless it causes damage to the original’s market. E.g. Weird Al Yankovich promotes original music.
  • Idea Expression Dichotomy protects expressions of ideas and not the ideas themselves.
    • e.g. Star-crossed lovers (idea), Romeo & Juliet (expression).
  • Copyright lasts 70 years from the death of the author, from the 1st of January the year after death. If the author is unknown copyright runs from when the work was published. If both the publish date and author is unknown there is no copyright. If there are multiple authors the copyright starts from the death of the last author.
  • Performers rights – if you give permission to be filmed you don’t own any footage taken and become a co-maker. If you don’t give permission you do own it.
  • ‘Performance’ isn’t categorised by the presence of an audience.
  • Exclusive rights means you’re the only one with rights over something/to do something.
  • If you give away your licence and it’s an exclusive licence – you hand over ALL your rights. Only one person can have it.
  • Non-exclusive licence means you give the right away to do that but I also retain my licence at the same time.
  • E.g. if you’re in a band and you sign for exclusive rights for a little boutique in Melb, they’re not gonna be able to release your record in other countries. So give the licence away wisely! You can also give an ‘exclusive on in Australia’ licence away but have a non-exclusive one for outside it (to put your music on Youtube).
  • To judge infringements of the copyright law, the Third-Person/Reasonable Person test is used because you can’t prove what the individual in question was thinking before and during the infringement. E.g. Is there a causal connection between the two songs? What would a third person think occurred. If an artist ‘stole’ a substantial part of another’s song, it doesn’t have to be a large part per say, but more a recognisable part.
  • Moral laws are a whole different matter. E.g. an artist drew a Christ on a cross. Another artist bought the rights to it, pissed on it then hung it up in the national gallery of art and called it ‘Pissed Christ’. The latter artist got sued by the original artist for moral rights and won.
    • Moral law lasts until the person dies.

Hope you learnt as much as I did!


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