Originally Posted by Lynx-lynx
How long does copyright last?
Until 1 January 2005, copyright generally lasted for the life of the relevant creator plus 50 years.
There were various exceptions to this rule, including:
• where a work was not published, performed or broadcast during a creatorʼs lifetime; and
• where something was published anonymously or under a pseudonym, and the identity of the creator couldnʼt reasonably be ascertained.
(In each of these cases, copyright lasted for 50 years from the end of the year the work was, with permission, first published, performed or broadcast.)
Under the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, Australia agreed to extend the general duration of copyright. As a result, the rules now are that copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years and where duration depends on year of publication, it lasts until 70 years after it is first published.
The Free Trade Agreement did not, however, include any obligation to revive copyright if copyright had already expired. This means that if, under the old rules, copyright had already expired by 1 January 2005, it stays expired and the material can be used freely under Australian law.
This applies to works published in Australia. For foreign works, as I said, since Australian copyright law incorporates the rule of the shorter term, if a shorter copyright term exists in the source country of that work, that shorter term also applies in Australia.
See item 5 of the Australian Copyright (International Protection) Regulations 1969 (consolidated as of 1 January 2005)
Act (Pages 11 and 12 of the document):
5. Copyright not to subsist in overseas editions in certain cases
(1) Copyright that, under the Act, subsists in a published edition of a work or works by reason only of the operation of these Regulations subsists only so long as protection in the nature of copyright subsists in relation to the edition under the law of a relevant country.
(2) In this regulation:
relevant country means a Berne Convention country, a UCC country, a WCT country or a WTO country:
(a) in which the edition was first published; or
(b) of which the publisher of the edition was a citizen or national at a material time; or
(c) in which the publisher, being an individual, was resident at a material time; or
(d) under the law of which the publisher, being a body corporate, was incorporated at a material time.
ie, If a foreign work would, under Australian copyright law, be under copyright protection, then that protection only exists as long as it's also protected by copyright in its source country. Or, turning it around, if it's in the public domain in its source country, it's also in the public domain in Australia.
This Item 5 is a statement of the rule of the shorter term, as I've said in previous posts.