Copyright records – Fact sheet 105
Administration of copyright in Australia
Between 1869 and 1899, all Australian colonies, with the exception of Tasmania, introduced legislation enabling authors and artists to copyright their literary, musical and artistic works. The colonial governments established agencies to administer the legislation and maintain registers of copyright. These records came under Commonwealth control from 1 January 1907 when the Copyright Act 1905 came into effect. Under the 1905 Act similar registration with the new Commonwealth Copyright Office was required to establish copyright, but this was discontinued under a new Copyright Act from 1968.
Holdings of copyright records
Records of copyright registration are held by a number of National Archives offices. The records include applications for copyright (including in many cases a copy of the literary script, musical score, artwork or photograph for which copyright was sought), registers of copyright, and indexes to the registers. Some of the works registered include literary and dramatic works, publications, photographs and musical scores by noted authors and artists from Australia’s past.
A comprehensive listing of records about copyright held by the Archives can be found in the National Archives research guide, A Nation’s Imagination: Australia’s copyright records, 1854–1968. The guide is available for browsing in all reading rooms.
A selection of the record holdings relating to copyright is included in the table below. Unless otherwise indicated records are held in the National Office, Canberra.