Exclusive rights of copyright holders

 

Some rights of copyright holders vary according to the type of work involved but the right to communicate to the public applies to all types of works.

Literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works (s 31)

Right to reproduce the work

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to reproduce the work, or a substantial part of it, in material form. Reproducing the work means using it to make a similar, but not necessarily identical, work. This right applies to all types of works.

Converting a work into or from a digital or other material readable form is reproduction of the work (s 21(1A)). So is the conversion of a computer programme from source code to object code, or vice versa, including by the process of compilation or decompilation (s 21(5)).

Right to publish the work

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to publish a work. “To publish” means to supply reproductions of the work to the public, by sale or otherwise (s 29(1)(a)). This right applies to all types of works. Publication does not need to be on a commercial scale.

Right to perform the work in public

The owner of copyright is the only person permitted to perform the work in public. This right applies to literary, dramatic or musical works only. Performance includes any method of presentation, including live performance, or the use of a recording or film. However, a broadcast is not a public performance. Any performance given to members of the public is a performance in public, unless it is of a private or domestic nature.

Right to make an adaption of the work

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to make an adaptation of the work. This right applies to literary, dramatic and musical works.

An adaptation of a literary work means:

if the work is not in dramatic form, a version in dramatic form;

if the work is in dramatic form, a version in non-dramatic form;

a version of a computer programme that is not a reproduction of that programme;

a translation of a literary work into another language; or

a version in which the story or action is conveyed solely or principally by pictures.

An adaptation of a musical work is an arrangement or transcription of it.

The copyright owner also has the exclusive right to reproduce an adaptation of the work, publish the adaptation, perform the adaptation in public, or communicate it to the public.

Right to enter into a commercial rental arrangement

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to enter into a commercial rental agreement. This is the right to supply the work on a temporary basis in the course of a business for payment. This right applies to computer programmes, and to works embodied in sound recordings.

Right to communicate to the public

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to communicate the work to the public. This applies to all types of works. It means to make the work available online, or to transmit the work electronically. It includes broadcasting the work, and the communication of a work on the internet, but does not include the distribution of the work in a tangible form. “To the public” means the public within or outside Australia (s 10(1)). This means that the owner of Australian copyright can control the communication of the work from Australia to an overseas audience.

Sound recordings and films (ss 85, 86)

Right to make a copy of the sound recording or film

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to make a copy of the sound recording or film. The copy must reproduce the actual sounds or images contained in the sound recording or film, not merely resemble them. As a result, a shot-by-shot remake of a film does not infringe the copyright in the original film (although it may infringe the copyright of the original film’s screenplay).

Right to cause the sound recording or film to be heard or seen in public, or to communicate it to the public

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to cause the sound recording or film to be heard or seen in public or to communicate it to the public. These rights are discussed under literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, above.

Right to enter a commercial rental arrangement

The copyright owner is the only person permitted to enter into a commercial rental agreement. This right applies to sound recordings, but not to films. SeeRight to enter into a commercial rental agreement”, in the section dealing with literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.

Television and sound broadcasts (s 87)

The copyright owner of a television or sound broadcast has the exclusive right to:

make a film or recording of the broadcast, or a copy of such a film or recording; and

rebroadcast the broadcast.

Published editions (s 88)

The owner of the copyright in a published edition of a work has the exclusive right to make a facsimile copy (i.e. an exact copy) of the edition.