Infringement of copyright in computer code

Computer code, like other literary works are automatically protected by copyright.  Subject to exceptions, only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce a literary work in which copyright subsists, pursuant to section 31 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act).   Generally the reproduction of another programmer’s code without their consent amounts to an infringement of copyright – section 36 of the Act.
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Who owns the code?

Who owns the computer code is an important issue not just for employers but also IT contractors, who may utilise their own code libraries, and business associates embarking on joint software development projects.  This question can be critical when attempting to commercialise intellectual property, raise capital or applying for a government grant.

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Introduction to intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP), in the Australian legal context, is much more than copyright and trade marks, it includes confidential information, registered designs, trade secrets, patents and plant breeder’s rights.  The protection of intellectual endeavours has been something which the law has recognised for centuries and something which the innovation agenda has embraced.  IP is becoming increasingly important as organisations strive for competitive advantage in the innovation age (click here or insert).  IP rights arise at both common law and statute and aim to protect a broad category of rights over the fruits of intellectual efforts. These rights fall into two (2) distinct categories, those that are registerable and those that are not.

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Government’s response to Productivity Commission’s report on intellectual property

The Australian Government has released its response to the Productivity Commission’s report into intellectual property arrangements in Australia.  The Productivity Commission (Commission) made numerous recommendations, a number of which were major departures from the current arrangements in Australia.  This article discusses these recommendations, the government’s response, and what amendments to intellectual property laws we may expect to see in the near future. [Read more…]

Proposed amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)

On 29 March 2017, the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2017 (Bill) was introduced to the Senate.  The Bill proposes to amend the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act) to allow for new situations where the use of copyright material will not result in an infringement of copyright, and to change the standard terms of copyright duration.  The Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum sets out that these amendments aim to: [Read more…]

Groundless threats of copyright infringement

It is often argued that intellectual property rights create an imbalance of power that is open to abuse by rights holders.  In an effort to counter this, section 202(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act) provides remedies for groundless threats of legal proceedings for copyright infringement.  This article will discuss the elements that define a threat as “groundless” and the remedies available when such a threat is made. [Read more…]

Dallas Buyers Club gets preliminary discovery

The Federal Court of Australia in Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited [2015] FCA 317 recently granted an application for preliminary discovery made by companies associated with the film “Dallas Buyers Club”. The applicants were seeking the identity of a number of Australian Internet users who allegedly infringed copyright in the film by downloading and making it available for download on the Internet via the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. [Read more…]

Copyright in artistic works

copyright symbolWhat is an artistic work?

We commonly think of an artistic work as a painting or sculpture, however an artistic work may take various other forms. Artistic works are protected by various statutory rights pursuant to section 32 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)(Act). Some examples provided by this section include:

  • paintings and drawings;
  • sculptures;
  • craft work;
  • architectural plans and buildings; and
  • photographs; and maps and plans.

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