Are you into creative and performing arts? Is my draft novel/song/artwork protected at law?

Under the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) various material is automatically protected by copyright. There are two general categories including “works” defined as “literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” and “subject matter other than works” which includes sound and TV broadcasts, recordings and film. In Australia, copyright lasts for the creator’s life and for 70 years after their death. Under the Act the work must also be original, and “substantial”. Copyright is automatic, and does not require you to do anything further such as placing your work on a register like that required by trademarks. However, you can notify people to the protection by using the (c) symbol.

Is my idea for a movie protected at law?

If you want to protect an idea for a movie or a TV program, it will not come under the Act, however, it may be protected by the common law doctrine of confidentiality. A confidential idea is one that is not public and was “communicated in confidence” – here a Confidentiality Agreement between the parties can assist.

If the idea was misused or disclosed you may have an action in breach of confidence and be entitled to damages, an account of profits and/or an injunction.

Should I sign this media contract?

Before signing a legal document in the entertainment industry or for creative work, it is always a good idea to seek independent legal advice and ensure you understand what you are signing. Often media contracts will contain representations allowing them to use your name/ photo/ work to promote their business, and you need to be ok with this, and all its implications. The contract may also be restrictive in what you are allowed to do with the work, or what jobs you can engage in for other media agencies.