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Copyright guide

This is a companion guide to the RMIT Copyright webpages for staff and students.

About this guide

This is a companion guide to the RMIT Copyright webpages for staff and students.


Copyright in Canvas (4:04 mins), RMIT Library Teaching & Research, Microsoft Stream (RMIT login required)


Contact the Copyright Service email:

What is Copyright and How it Works

Copyright is a form of intellectual property. It protects 'the form or way an idea or information is expressed, not the idea or information itself' (Attorney General's Department 2012, p. 2).

Common forms of copyright include charts, diagrams, figures, moving images, music, tables, visual images, and writing.  

In Australia, the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), provides an exclusive right for a period of time to artists, authors, designers or inventors, or the assignee to reproduce or perform the original work.

Generally, this period of time is for the life of the author or creator plus 70 years.

For moving images such as films and sound recordings made after 1969, the copyright lasts for 70 years from the date the moving image was first published, while for broadcasts made after 1969, the copyright is for 50 years from the year of the first broadcast (Australian Copyright Council 2014).


How copyright works (1:38 mins) by John Gibbs (YouTube)



Attorney General's Department 2012, Short guide to copyright, Attorney General's Department, viewed 8 August 2016, <>.  

Australian Copyright Council 2014, Duration of copyright, Australian Copyright Council, viewed 8 August 2016, <>.