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There are several ways that writers can protect their work in Australia. For instance, the Copyright Act protects works that are in written form. What’s more, writers should ensure a non-disclosure agreement is in place if their work is just an idea and is not yet in writing.

In this article, we explain how writers can protect their work in Australia and make sure that their ideas are not stolen.

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Author: Farrah Motley, Director of Prosper Law – a publishing law firm that provides legal advice for authors.

Get the right advice

The first thing a writer should do to protect their work is to get advice.

Moreover, the right advice is important for any writer and is particularly important for:

  • well-known writers who have created highly regarded or high-value work
  • new authors that are looking to publish their writing
  • writers who are contributing to a manuscript or working with other writers

The right advice may include using the services of a professional book editor or seeking legal advice for authors. And a publishing lawyer can be an important tool for writers who are looking to protect their work.

Sign a non-disclosure agreement before sharing ideas

There is a difference between copyright protection and the protection of ideas. Firstly, the Copyright Act 1968 only protects the original written works. However, it doesn’t protect ideas.

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The Copyright Act doesn’t protect ideas

Copyright protection is automatic for any work that is transformed into a tangible form.

That means that it doesn’t matter how work is written. As soon as words are put on paper, the writer is the legal owner of that work.

Further, ideas that do not find their way onto paper are not protected by the Copyright Act.

A non-disclosure agreement will protect ideas

A non-disclosure agreement is one of the ways that a writer can protect their work. An author lawyer can prepare a non-disclosure agreement that protects written work.

A non-disclosure agreement will need to clearly identify the idea that it is trying to protect. A non-disclosure agreement can protect an idea from disclosure. A writer will have legal rights against a person if that person tells someone else about the idea and breaches the NDA.

A non-disclosure agreement must be written properly. A qualified author lawyer can ensure that a non-disclosure agreement is legally enforceable.

Don’t sign a publishing agreement without a legal review

A publishing agreement may impact a writer’s ability to protect their work. This is because publishing agreements often require writers to give up some of their rights.

A legal review is essential before signing a publishing agreement. Further, when you talk to a lawyer that provides legal advice for authors, they can provide a quote to carry out a legal review of a publishing agreement.

Writers can protect their rights by ensuring that a publishing agreement does not contain terms that require the writer to give up their rights.

Enforce your moral rights

Moral rights are also governed by the Copyright Act 1968. A moral right can continue to apply to written work even if copyright has been granted to someone else. This is because moral rights protect the rights of a creator, such as the right to be attributed as the author of written work.

legal advice for authors

Moral rights are legally enforceable rights and can be used by writers to protect the authorship of their work.

Tell people you are the copyright owner

Sometimes the best way for a writer to protect their work is to tell other people that they are the copyright owner. This is because it prevents misunderstandings and puts other people on notice that you are aware of your rights.

And because of this, getting legal advice for authors is helpful if you have any questions about copyright.

How can Prosper Law help?

Prosper Law is Australia’s online law firm. We provide legal advice to businesses and individuals across Australia. Our areas of legal practice include contracts, eCommerce, publishing, legal counsel and employment law.

If you need to talk to an author lawyer, get in touch today.

Contact the team at Prosper Law today to discuss how we can provide you with legal advice for authors for a fixed fee or at affordable hourly rates.

Farrah Motley | Director

PROSPER LAW – Australia’s Online Law Firm

M: 0422 721 121



A: Suite No. 99, Level 54, 111 Eagle Street, Brisbane, Queensland Australia 4000

Read Characteristics To Look For When Choosing Australia Business Lawyers if you enjoyed this article.

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