Essay about Graphic Designers

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I N F O R M A T I O N SH E E T G 0 7 5 v 0 5 January 2012

Graphic Designers & Copyright
In this information sheet, we give a brief overview of copyright issues affecting graphic designers. People who use graphic design or engage graphic designers may also find it helpful. More detailed information is provided in our book Graphic Designers & Copyright. Other information sheets that may be relevant are Artworks, Logos, Websites, and Assigning & Licensing Rights. For information about these and our other information sheets, other publications and seminar program, see our website: The purpose of this information sheet is to give general introductory information about copyright. If you need to know about how the law applies in a particular situation, please get advice from a lawyer. A Copyright Council lawyer may be able to give you free preliminary legal advice about an issue not addressed in an information sheet. This service is primarily for professional creators and arts organisations but is also available to staff of educational institutions and libraries. For further information about the service, see: We update our information sheets from time to time. Check our website to make sure this is the most recent version. Key points • • • Drawings, logos, photographs and visual images are generally protected by copyright. Copyright does not protect ideas, styles or techniques. Ownership of copyright varies according to the circumstances in which the work was made.

Copyright protection generally In Australia, copyright law is contained in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and decisions of courts. As a result of international treaties such as the Berne Convention, most foreign copyright owners are protected in Australia, and Australian copyright owners are protected in most other countries. For further information, see information sheet Copyright Protection in Other Countries. What does copyright protect? Copyright protects a range of materials, including artistic works, written material (such as journal articles, novels, and reports), musical works and films. Drawings, logos, photographs and other visual images are likely to be protected by copyright as artistic works. For example, the stylised letter “R” used as a logo by the Roland Corporation has been held to be protected as an artistic work. In another case, a logo consisting of three rectangles

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Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G075v05 Graphic Designers & Copyright


and a triangle, arranged to form the outline of a house around the words “Aussie Home Loans” was also found to be an artistic work. Although it is not entirely clear, the layout and typography of documents may also be protected as an artistic work. However, it is likely this will have only limited protection as a published edition. (The published edition copyright generally refers to the layout of a book or periodical, and protects the publisherʼs investment in preparing the edition for publication.) Copyright does not protect ideas, styles or techniques. For example, the “look and feel” of a newsletter or other publication is not generally protected by copyright. A person may therefore generally copy ideas about how a publication might be laid out (although photocopying a particular edition of another publication might be an infringement of copyright in the published edition). Protection is automatic There is no system of registration for copyright protection in Australia. Copyright protection does not depend upon publication, a copyright notice, or any other procedure. Copyright protection is free and automatic. The copyright notice While the copyright notice is not required for protection in Australia and in most other countries, it does notify people that the work is protected and identifies the