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The act of copying on a photocopier or scanner, taking a digital camera shot, downloading from the internet or the State Library making a copy for you.

Made public

When (if ever) a work has been made public will now be important when calculating the copyright term of works, films and sound recordings. A work will be 'made public' by or with the permission of the copyright owner includes publication, public performance, communication to the public, and exhibition.

Orphan works

Libraries use the term 'orphan work' to describe material where the copyright owner can either not be identified or located and permission to copy the work or publish it online cannot be obtained.

When an orphan work appears on the State Library's websites is not a guarantee that you can use it for any other purpose. The State Library may have put the digital copy online using one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cwlth) that apply to libraries. These exceptions are not transferable to the public.

Public domain works

Works where copyright has expired.

Published works

Works of which reproductions have been supplied to the public, such as books, newspapers, magazines, most maps, commercially-made music CDs, television broadcasts.

Rare and unique works

Examples from the State Library's collection include unpublished works and rare books.


Using a copyrighted work in a print or web publication or website, in a performance, adaptation, broadcast, exhibition, screening and even making a translation of a work.

Unpublished works

Works of which reproductions have not been supplied to the public. These can include architectural plans; archival material including diaries, letters and the records of businesses and organisations; artworks; hand-drawn maps and music scores; oral history sound recordings; and photographs.

Useful copyright resources

The law

Copyright Act 1968 (Cwlth)

The current version of the Copyright Act includes all changes made by amending legislation, such as the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000, the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000, the relevant parts of the US Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 2004, the Copyright Amendment Act 2006 and the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017. There is generally no need to look at any of these amending acts.

For an overview of the Copyright Act see 'A short guide to copyright' issued by the Australian Government.

Exceptions that allow copying without permission

The Australian Copyright Council has an excellent website that provides a range of fact sheets.

Collecting societies and other ways to find copyright owners

Organisations with expertise in copyright and intellectual property rights