Minefields of Legality

“To create, to publish and allow to be seen,

runs the gauntlet of gain by possible illegal means.”

Sometimes I imagine a world without  lawyers and accountants, yes what a wonderful world that would be, one where we had marsh mellows for clouds which rained gumdrops. Unfortunately the bottom line is wherever possible money may be involved then one must know their legal rights and if required seek further advice.copyrightpicture.PNG

Copyrighting is a way of protecting your work when it is published or displayed in a public domain. As soon as you create and publish or display something it is automatically protected under copyright as it is your own work but what does it actually cover?

Copyright protects the way an idea is expressed. It does not protect ideas or concepts, styles, techniques or information. If you wrote an outline of a computer game, your written outline will be protected by copyright under literary work and if someone wanted to reproduce that outline, they would need your permission.However, someone else could write their own script, using your ideas, without necessarily infringing your copyright. Copyright would only be an issue if someone copied or paraphrased an important or distinctive part of your written work.


Copyright covers the following:

textual material (“literary works”) such as journal articles, novels, screenplays, poems, song lyrics and reports;
computer programs (a sub-category of “literary works”);
compilations (another sub-category of “literary works”) such as anthologies — the selection and arrangement of material may be protected separately from the individual items contained in the compilation;
artistic works such as paintings, drawings, cartoons, sculpture, craft work, architectural plans, buildings, photographs, maps and plans;
dramatic works such as choreography, screenplays, plays and mime pieces;
musical works: that is, the music itself, separately from any lyrics or recording;
cinematograph films: the visual images and sounds in a film, video or DVD are protected separately from any copyright in works recorded on the film or video, such as scripts and music;
sound recordings: the particular recording itself is protected by copyright, in addition to, for example, the music or story that is recorded;
broadcasts: TV and radio broadcasters have a copyright in their broadcasts, which is separate from the copyright in the films, music and other material which they broadcast; and
published editions: publishers have copyright in their typographical arrangements, which is separate from the copyright in works reproduced in the edition (such as poems or illustrations or music).


Copyright is not just one right, but actually a hand full of rights that are covered. This is often referred to as a ‘bundle of rights’. This essentially means that the owner is the only one allowed to use the rights under copyright, all other people have to obtain permission from original owner before using published or displayed works.

Under the Copyright Act, the bundle of rights allows a copyright owner to:

  • reproduce the work;
  • make the work public for the first time;
  • communicate the work to the public

Owners of copyright in literary, dramatic and musical works also have two exclusive rights, allowing them to:

  • perform the work in public ;
  • make an adaptation of the work;

The first owner of the work published or displayed is the one who created it in the first place, this can only change if the original creator transfers part or all in a legal document except in the case of an employee who is creating works for a business or someone else e.g newspaper journalist (not a freelance but an employee of the paper). Copyright is free and covers the original works for at least 25 years from the end of year date of the year of the works being published. No one is allowed to use those works unless express permission is given by the owner except in the following cases:

  • Fair dealing for research and study;
  • Fair dealing for review and criticism;
  • Fair dealing for reporting the news;
  • Fair dealing for legal advice; and
  • Fair dealing for parody and satire.

For specific information on creating games and for game developers the following link is a great read and lets you know what is protected under Australian law.


Arts Law – Game Developers

As I stated in the beginning of this blog, that this world would be a better place without lawyers and accountants but as the world is what it is they have become a necessary evil.
If in doubt please seek legal advise.


Copyright-australiacom. (2016). Copyright-australiacom. Retrieved 8 July, 2016, from http://www.copyright-australia.com/?gclid=CLilosuA480CFVcRvQodX_4N_g

In-text citation: (Copyright-australiacom, 2016)

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