FAQs

Here are some common queries about the Copyright Agency.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try our keyword search top right, or contact us and we’ll personally respond to your enquiry.

Who is the Copyright Agency?

We are a not-for-profit, member based organisation that has been appointed by the Australian government to manage collection and distribution of

  • statutory licences that allow use of text and images for education, government purposes, and people with a disability
  • royalties to artists from resales of their works (the resale royalty scheme).

We are also authorised by our members to license their works for other uses, such as by corporations.

What is 'Fair Use'?

Fair use is an American legal principle that has enabled large enterprises in the US to use copyright material for free.

Under Australian law, enterprises pay Australian writers, artists, creators, photographers and publishers to use their work, unless it’s for public interest purposes outlined in the legislation, such as reporting news or parody.

A minority of industry players want to change that, and the Productivity Commission in Canberra recently made recommendations to introduce fair use in Australia. Find out more.

How do you work out what is a 'fair payment'?

We negotiate licence fees with licensees, based on the value of the use of content.

We collect information about usage by licensees that assists us to determine the value of the licence to them.

Licence fees and other licence terms can be set by the Copyright Tribunal if agreement cannot be reached by negotiation.

 

What is the relationship between Copyright Agency and Viscopy?

Since July 2012, Copyright Agency has managed Viscopy’s services.

Copyright Agency and Viscopy are both member based not-for-profit organisations.

Copyright Agency’s members include mainly writers and publishers but also extends to artist members like cartoonists, illustrators and photographers. Viscopy’s members are just visual artists artists and artists’ estates.

We refer to our joint operations as Copyright Agency | Viscopy.

We have different options allowing members to join one or both organisations, depending on what level of service they require.

How do you determine the fees you collect for licences?

The Copyright Agency has agreements with licensees, or their peak bodies, about the licence fees payable during the period of the agreement.

In most cases, this is a flat fee (e.g. per student or employee), increased by the consumer price index (CPI) during the course of the agreement.

The Copyright Agency negotiates a licence fee having regard to the likely usage of content in reliance on the licence during the period of the agreement.

How do you know when work is being copied?

We do not receive information about every single use made in reliance on a licence.

Instead, we receive information from a sample of licensees about their usage in a particular period. For the education sector, we engage an independent research company to conduct these surveys.

 

We also use indicative data when Copyright Agency does not receive any data about the actual use during the licence period. We allocate the licence fees to rights holders in our database whose content was available to be used by or licensees during the licence period.

If you can show that your work has been substantially used under one of our licences but you have not received payment, you may be eligible for an ex-gratia payment.

Why do creators need to become members before you can pay them?

It’s a requirement of the Copyright Regulations.

If we can’t find a rightsholder or they are not a member, we hold the amount allocated to them our trust fund until the creator becomes a member. This is also a requirement is in Regulation 23JM(g)(ii).

Do you monitor infringements?

No. We monitor usage made under the licences we administer.

In some cases, we can provide assistance to Viscopy members whose copyright has been infringed.

How do you calculate payments?

We allocate licence fees for a period (e.g. a year) according to the content actually used, or likely to have been used, in reliance of the licence based on the data available to us.

 

How often do you distribute payments?

We distribute payments on a regular basis

We publish a Distribution Schedule which outlines future payment rounds.

This is in line with our distribution policy. Find out more about how we collect and distribute royalties.

What's the difference between 'moral rights' and 'copyright'?

Copyright is designed to protect the ‘economic rights’ of copyright holders. In comparison, moral rights protect the reputation and integrity of creators.

So while the Copyright Agency manages copyright, and monitors the reproduction and communication of works, it does not monitor the moral rights of its members.

As a creator, you retain your moral rights even if you do not own the copyright in your work. Moral rights can only be held by individuals, so corporate entities and organisations cannot claim moral rights in a work. Read more about Moral Rights here.

Does it cost to become a member?

No. Membership is free.

Anyone who owns or controls rights in text or images can join Copyright Agency. Anyone who owns copyright in images can join Viscopy. We recommend you do both.

No renewal is necessary and you can opt out if you prefer.

You could also extend your membership and choose to participate so your work can be made available for the schemes we licence.

You can also choose to participate in our:

  • new media licence schemes
  • commercial reproduction licence schemes

Find out more about membership and joining us here.  Find about our admin fees here.

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