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Journalists

Generally, employees of newspapers and magazines own certain rights in relation to material they create for publication.

Journalistsʼ rights in relation to their work largely depends on their agreement with the publisher. Journalists also have moral rights in relation to their work.

In Australia, Copyright protects a range of literary works written by journalists including:

  • press articles
  • reports
  • scripts (such as for programs or commercials); and
  • interviews

Newspaper and Magazine Staff

There are special provisions for copyright ownership for staff of newspapers, magazines and other periodicals. In most cases, the first owner of copyright in works created by employees, as part of their job, is the employer. There is a special provision in the Copyright Act (section 35(4)) for employees of newspapers, magazines and other periodical publications. These include staff writers, photographers and cartoonists. There are different provisions depending on when the work was created, because of changes in the law.

WORK CREATED EMPLOYEE  EMPLOYER
Since 1 July 1998 Owns rights for:

  • photocopying from a paper version
  • reproduction in a book
Owns rights for everything else
Between 1 May 1969 and 1 July 1998 Owns all rights except:

  • publication in a newspaper,
    magazine or similar periodical
  • broadcasting
Owns rights for:

  • publication in a newspaper,
    magazine or similar periodical
  • broadcasting
Before 1 May 1969 Right to restrain uses other than publication in a
newspaper, magazine or similar periodical
Owns rights for everything, subject to employee’s
right to restrain

Some things to note:

  • the provision applies to all employees, including writers, photographers and cartoonists
  • there can be an agreement between the employer and the employee altering the effect of the provision (e.g. vesting all rights in the employer)
  • the provision applies to periodical publications other than newspapers and magazines
  • the Copyright Law Review Committee, in its Report on Journalists’ Copyright, said the provision applies to scientific, trade and professional periodicals (see paragraph 4.10)
  • the provision does not apply to employees of other media (e.g. broadcasters)

CONTRIBUTORS TO NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES 

Contributors to newspapers and magazines – including journalists and other writers, as well as photographers and cartoonists and illustrators – are likely to be entitled to claim a copyright payment in the following circumstances, however this entitlement depends on individual employment or contractual arrangements.  The following is a guide only.

Work created by you as Licence fees allocated for Provided
Freelancer Any use of your work You have not assigned the entitlement to claim to the publisher (check your contract)
Employee of newspaper or magazine
  • photocopying from a paper version
  • reproduction in a book (print or digital)
You have not assigned the entitlement to claim for these uses to your employer (check your employment contract)

If the work was created by you as part of your job as an employee of another type of business (e.g. a wire service, or a broadcaster), it is unlikely you are entitled to claim unless there is a special provision in your employment contract.

OTHER SERVICES

Our other services to members include:
  • free information and seminars
  • Monthly e-news (Creative Licence)
  • funding for projects and skills development through our Cultural Fund
  • advocacy

JOIN US

  1. Read our Terms & Conditions
  2. Apply online via our Member Portal.
  3. Or you can contact the Copyright Agency’s Member Services team on 1800 066 844 or by emailing memberservices@copyright.com.au.

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Keith Austin

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Keith Austin

Author • Journalist

I like telling stories, I like creating people and worlds and situations that people enjoy reading...It always seemed such a magical thing to do - to tell stories that wormed their way into people's hearts and brains. What better way to spend your life!

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