White SW Computer Law
Intellectual Property, Information Technology & Telecommunications Lawyers
Melbourne Office - PO Box 452, COLLINS STREET WEST Victoria 8007 Australia
Sydney Office - GPO Box 2506, SYDNEY New South Wales 2001 Australia
Telephone: Melbourne Office - +61 3 9629 3709 Sydney Office - +61 2 9233 2600
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Email: wcl@computerlaw.com.au Internet: http://www.computerlaw.com.au

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Steve White, Principal - White SW Computer Law

Multimedia software products are becoming increasingly popular and are used anywhere from the corporate training room to your own home. The versatility of these products arise from the combination of component parts such as sound recordings, text, photographs and computer programs. However this combination of components has given rise to some interesting questions with respect to copyright.

Copyright in Australia is protected by way of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Like all acts, there is a list of definitions which is used in order to clarify exactly what the Government is expressing in the act. The problem with multimedia is that the Copyright Act does not classify multimedia as a category of work for the purposes of copyright protection. Like many acts dealing with computer hardware or software the legislation simply has not kept up with the changes in technology.

There will be copyright protection for the component parts such as photographs and computer programs as they are defined as categories of works, however, the multimedia product as a whole may not have copyright protection. The Courts are yet to rule on this matter.

If you are developing a multimedia product, it is important that you have a written agreement which defines who owns the intellectual property in the product and mark the product with the copyright symbol: © 19XY (year of publication) ABC Pty Ltd (name of copyright owner) All Rights Reserved.

If you are using non-original works in your multimedia product, you must ensure that you have the permission from the copyright owner to use that work. You should obtain this permission by way of an assignment of copyright or by obtaining a licence to use the copyright work. If you are producing the multimedia product for another party and they ask that you incorporate a photo, video clip or other copyright work, you should ask that they indemnify you against any claims for infringement of copyright if the creator of that work should object to its inclusion in your multimedia work.

Defending a copyright infringement claim can be expensive, so time and money spent to clarify your copyright position before a project is commenced is a sound investment for multimedia producers.

www.computerlaw.com.au © White SW Computer Law 1997 This article is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for proper legal advice, readers should make their own enquiries and seek appropriate legal advice.

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