Copyright for U3A Groups

Copyright and Your U3A
[August 2020]

Carmen Champion prepared the Copyright Guide and the summary, now attached, and owns the copyright in both the Guide and the summary. This document may only be reproduced for the purposes of U3As in Australia. In first publishing the General Guide to Copyright Law in October 2019, the author, made the following observations, which remain current.

“The point is that there are very few things created by an individual these days that does not attract copyright. For copyright to subsist all that is required is that the work originated with the author and is not just a copy of an existing work, and that the author exercised some labour, skill and experience in its creation. The necessary labour, skill and experience is always a question of degree. In a great many cases it is minimal.

The starting point should always be to assume that what you are reading, looking at or listening to is protected by copyright (that includes works created overseas). The Copyright Guide sets out the duration of copyright in various types of works. In the case of many works the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years so that determining whether copyright has expired is anything but easy. Many works such as films contain a variety of copyright works. Many of those copyrights may also be protected by moral rights.

As copyright is a form of property, the Government has made a number of collecting agencies responsible for ensuring that copyright owners receive royalties for the use of their works. They collect millions of dollars each year. Without the licence of one or more of these collecting agencies, the doing of any of the acts comprised in the copyright of a work is unlawful. It is a form of theft as each such act deprives the copyright owner of part of the monetary fruits of his/her labour.

Importantly, just because you own a DVD, CD or subscribe to a service such as Spotify does not mean you can play or view the content in public (and a group of U3A members meeting together is considered to be in public). Neither does the ownership of a book or music score allow you to make copies of their content for distribution to your U3A class without the consent of the copyright owner or the relevant collecting agency.

U3As have the benefit of being treated as “educational” institutions for the purposes of the licences granted by some of the collecting agencies. That fact alone provides significant scope for the use of copyright works for the purposes of U3As.”

The Copyright Guide (version (25 August 2020 to include One Music) is simply an overview of some of the issues raised by copyright law in the context of the activities of U3As. All of the collecting agencies are more than happy to advise you on any issue that falls within their respective purview. Download the General Guide to Copyright Law Updated 25.08.2020.