Loss of copyright protection

Copyright protection for an artistic work can be lost, in part, if the copyright owner allows the artistic work to be applied industrially, and articles to which the artistic work have been applied are offered for sale anywhere in the world (s 77). An artistic work is applied industrially if it is applied to at least 50 articles. For example, if an artist draws a design for a chair, once 50 chairs are made, and one is offered for sale, other people can make identical chairs without infringing the copyright of the artist’s drawing. This can be a real trap for designers and small-scale manufacturers.

To prevent other people applying an artistic work industrially, the copyright owner must register the work as a design under the Designs Act 2003 (Cth) before an article to which the design has been applied industrially has been sold. Information about design registration is available from IP Australia’s website at www.ipaustralia.gov.au.

Copyright protection for an artistic work is not lost if the work is applied to the surface of an article (e.g. printing a pattern on a textile or a drawing on a greeting card).