If you’ve created an original work – like a website, book or educational program – you probably have a few questions.

Can I protect my idea?
How can I copyright my idea?
What happens if somebody steals my work?

In Australia, you can’t actually protect an idea from others using it freely.

However, once an idea is put down in some type of material form, it is given automatic copyright protection as an original work.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to formally ‘register’ copyright as you have to do with, for instance, a trade mark.

Instead, once your creative idea is put down in some sort of material form, it’s generally given automatic copyright under the Copyright Act 1968.

So, what can you do?

Usually, the first step is drafting a Copyright Disclaimer.

When You’ve Created An Original Work: Copyright Disclaimers

What is a Copyright Disclaimer? Put simply, a Copyright Disclaimer is a legal statement in which you claim ownership over your work. 

You’ve no doubt seen the © symbol with some wording to follow about the copyright held.

Whether it be a book, a YouTube video, or even a pitch deck — having a Copyright Disclaimer attached to your work makes it clear to others that you own it. 

But the legal implications in the Copyright Act can make things a little tricky.

Your rights and obligations may differ depending on the type of original work you’ve created (we’ve broken down Australian copyright law here).

Before you actually put together a Copyright Disclaimer, it’s important that you speak with an experienced IP lawyer who can advise you of your rights and obligations under Australian copyright law, and what it means to have a Copyright Disclaimer.

When You’re Still In The Idea Stage: NDAs 

What if you’re still in the idea stage and haven’t actually made an original work yet? 

In this case, it may be too early for a Copyright Disclaimer. However, you might still be looking to protect your work in its early stages. 

There is no legal way to protect an idea under copyright law, but you can protect confidential information.

So, if you’re engaging with others in the early stages of your work and telling them about your idea, it’s always good to have them sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

An NDA is a legally binding agreement that protects your confidential information whenever you’re engaging in a commercial discussion with others.

For example, if you’re still pitching your idea to investors, having an NDA might be a useful way to protect the information you’re sharing.

If you want to know more about how an NDA can work for your business, we’ve written about it here.

Need Help With An NDA Or Copyright Disclaimer?

If you need help protecting your copyright – whether it be drafting an NDA or a Copyright Disclaimer – we’re here to help!

Our friendly team of lawyers can walk you through your rights and obligations under Australian law, and what you can do from there.

You can reach us on 1800 730 617 or drop a line at team@sprintlaw.com.au

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