The document delivery exception in Section 49 of the Copyright Act 1968 lets Australian libraries and archives supply copies of material in their collection to clients for research and study. But the process and record keeping requirements can be confusing. See step by step instructions below.

To comply with the document delivery exception (s49) you should take the following steps:

  1. To start the process of supply, the client must provide a request that states:
    • What material they need;
    • That the material is for their own research and study; and
    • That they have not previously been supplied with the material requested.

If possible, this request should be provided in writing (eg by filling in a form or sending an email). However, if the person cannot provide the request in writing, they can do so verbally with the library/archive keeping records. The librarian who takes the request must record that she/he believes the information is accurate.

  1. If more than a “reasonable portion” (ie 10 percent, or one chapter) is requested then the library or archive officer must check if the work is commercially available. If it is commercially available only the 10 percent/one chapter can be supplied. If it is not then the officer must make a declaration stating it is not available. They can then provide the full amount requested by the client.
  2. The officer makes the reproduction. Preservation copies may be used to make the copy for supply instead of the original work, for example for efficiency or if the original work is too delicate for scanning. 
  3. The officer affixes a notice to the reproduction stating that:
    • further dealings with the reproduction may infringe copyright; and
    • that Division 3 of Part III of the Act affects whether further dealings would infringe copyright.
  4. The officer supplies it to the client. This can be done either in hardcopy or electronically (eg via email).

  5. If the reproduction was supplied in electronic form all electronic copies made in the process that remain at the library/archive must be destroyed in a reasonable time (eg 3 weeks).

Works of artistic craftsmanship are a type of artistic work. Basically material that possesses an artistic quality, were created as a result of the creators craftsmanship and are not mass produced item are an artistic work. This may include embroidery, tapestry, needlework and other crafts, as well as handmade ceramics, handmade jewellery and crafted furniture.

No, there is no need to include the ‘c in a circle’ symbol (©) with your name and date to get copyright protection. However, it can be useful in evidencing copyright ownership and allowing parties who may wish to licence the content from you to identify you.

Best practice is not to assert copyright over digitisations. This is the position supported by the ALCC. The National and State Libraries Australia’s (NSLA) position on Public Domain works also encourages this:

“NSLA supports the principle that public domain is a permanent state: the digital conversion of public domain works undertaken by NSLA libraries does not create a new copyright”. However, some reproductions of public domain works will create a new copyright. For example if an art photographer takes a photo of a painting that includes elements of composition such as special lighting or angles, the photograph will be a separate copyright work. As such, when you are having your public domain material copied it is prudent to ensure the library or archive owns any new copyright created, and consider marking the material as public domain online, so users know they are free to use it.”

Often a copyright notice will be something like this:

© 2019 John Smith

This indicates that John Smith is the author or maker of the material and it was created in 2019.

Other examples of the types of copyright notices include:

Marvel studios

© 2019 Marvel

The notice in the end credit crawl of Marvel Studio’s Avengers: End Game indicates that Marvel Worldwide Inc is the copyright owner and the film was made in 2019.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation

© 2019 ABC

The ABC’s notice in the footer of their website indicates that the copyright in webpage content is owned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Griffith Review

© Copyright Griffith University & the author

The notice included in the footer of pages of the Griffith Review indicate that Griffith University (the publisher) and the author of the specific article are the copyright owners.

Australian Government – Australian Communications and Media Authority

© Commonwealth of Australia 2019
With the exception of coats of arms, logos, emblems, images, other third-party material or devices protected by a trademark, this content is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.

We request attribution as the Australian Communications and Media Authority Communications report 2017–18. All other rights are reserved.

The notice in the front matter of the Communications report 2017–18 published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. It indicates the copyright owner is the Australian government (and as such is Crown Copyright). It also informs people that the material is available for reuse under the terms of a Creative Commons licence and makes a request related to how the agency and document should be attributed.

There are a number of myths perpetuated about what you have to do to get copyright protection. Importantly, copyright protection in Australia is free and automatic from the moment the content is in a material form (such as the words of a poem being written down or a song is recorded). There is no application process, no registration requirement and no fees owing. And you do not need to publish your material, send yourself a copy of the material by registered post or even put a copyright notice on it (although these actions may be useful for proving copyright ownership). These requirements are explained further in our information on the requirements for gaining copyright protection.

No. Although a licence is needed to play music publicly at a library (e.g. over a loudspeaker or as part of a concert), a licence is not needed for public access computers on library premises.

A number of public libraries across Australia have been approached by copyright collecting society APRA AMCOS about obtaining a licence for public access computers on their premises, on the basis that individuals might use them to listen to music.

The State Library of New South Wales sought legal advice on the matter, which confirmed that individual listening does not constitute a performance in public under the Copyright Act 1968, and that libraries therefore do not need an APRA AMCOS licence for such activities on their public access computers.

This is different from the situation in which a library might be playing background music for its patrons or staff, or using its venues to host live music. Such activities do amount to a public performance of music, and a libraries should obtain a licence to permit them.

In response to outreach from Australian libraries, APRA AMCOS have amended their licensing policy and have undertaken to no longer approach libraries seeking licences for individual computers.

The copyright law in some countries – most notably the United States – include a broad copyright exception called fair use. In short such provisions permit uses of copyright material so long as the use if fair. This approach does not seek to define a list of uses that are fair.

In Australia we do not have fair use – we have fair dealing. A major difference with the fair dealing approach is that it does prescribe a list of noninfringing uses. In Australia that list covers:

  • research or study
  • criticism or review
  • parody or satire
  • reporting the news
  • provision of legal advice
  • access for people with disability

The Copyright Act protects ‘Works’ and ‘Subject matter other than works’. ‘Works’ include literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works while other subject matter includes sound recordings, films, television and radio broadcasts and published editions of works. For more detail about the types of material protected by copyright see Materials protected by copyright.

Copyright protected material is only protected for the duration of copyright. After copyright has expired material passes into the public domain. Material in the public domain is not protected by copyright.

Copyright also does not protect:

  • Ideas
  • Information, facts, data, etc
  • Concepts, styles, techniques, etc
  • Equations, formulas, recipes, etc
  • Mass produced fashion and utilitarian objects
  • Single words, names, titles, slogans
  • People and their image

And copyright does not protect inventions, brands, utilitarian objects or circuit layouts, which are protected by other areas of intellectual property – patent, trade mark, designs and circuit layouts respectively

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