Last Updated: 31 Jan, 2023     Views: 2

Copyright protects original works. These works are classified as literary works (works in writing) and artistic works (most other mediums).

Categories protected by copyright include:

  • Literary works - including books, newspaper articles, computer programs and compilations including anthologies and directories
  • Dramatic works - including plays, dance and mime
  • Musical works - including scores and combinations of melody and harmony
  • Artistic works - including paintings, drawings, cartoons, photographs, sculpture and craft work
  • Cinematograph films - including films, videos and TV programs
  • Sound recordings - including compact discs, tapes, records and digital recordings
  • Broadcasts - television programs and sound broadcasts
  • Published editions - the way in which an individual edition of a work is presented, including typesetting etc.

Check the duration of copyright for different categories of material.

Copyright does not cover:

Ideas or information - only the original work which is a created expression of the ideas or information. Your article (published or unpublished) is protected by copyright, but not your idea for an article.

You also cannot copyright a fact, but the expression of the fact (e.g.: a list of facts compiled for a "listicle") is subject to copyright.

Intellectual property

Copyright also does not cover:

  • Words patterns and colours used as brands, names, titles, packaging, etc.
  • Innovations/patterns for devices, process or substances
  • Circuit layouts
  • Designs for physical appearances of products (although aspects of the designs may be copyrightable)
  • Plant varieties (e.g. roses) that have been designed by breeders

But these works are covered by various other intellectual property laws, including Trade Marks Act 1995, Patents Act 1990, Circuit Layouts Act 1989, Designs Act 2003, Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.

It is safe to assume that any creative endeavour is legally protected in some way, and seek advice before attempting to adapt, copy and/or distribute it.


Adapted from:

Department of Communication and the Arts. (2016). Short guide to copyright. (CC BY )