Copyright & Trademark Information
The advice on this page is a basic guide for individuals and clients about copyright ownership; what it means and how it works.
Copyright law exists to protect the Intellectual Property (IP) rights to all work originated and produced by any creative agency.
Under Australian copyright law (along with many other countries – see International copyright below) the assignment of copyright is free and automatically given to the creator of the original work. It provides protection for the work from the moment it has been created and (unlike trademark protection) it does not require a system of registration.
In the context of design and advertising, copyright ownership covers a broad spectrum of work; including and not limited to the following:
All work created by Propella is considered to be the Intellectual Property (IP) of Propella and associated group of companies. The work we undertake is intended for use by our clients in the context of what is was originally created for and is effectively licensed by Propella to our clients to use in these contexts. We are generally happy for clients to extend the scope of use within a new context and simply ask that clients contact Propella to discuss the repurposing of our IP.
It should be noted that copyright and trademark ownership is quite different. Ownership of copyright is indicated with a © symbol, however it is not mandatory to display it. Trademark is symbolised using ™ or ® and requires registration through the appropriate institution. We strongly advise all clients to protect their brands by attaining ownership of their trademarks. For more comprehensive information about the differences between copyright and trademark ownership, please consult with IP Australia or a registered IP lawyer (we recommend Blair Beven at AJ Park, Sydney) who can provide expert guidance on all legal matters.
Propella reserve their rights to copyright ownership, primarily for promotional purposes (e.g. on Propella's website, social media channels, or in print) so that potential clients may see the work we have completed.
Copyright law serves to protect the integrity of our work; to maintain the quality and trajectory of the brands we work with and how they are used.
As a common courtesy to our clients, we do not publish material that is not already in the public domain, including any material that is deemed to be confidential, or sensitive to our client interests. Under normal circumstances we will also inform clients of our intent to publish material, which provides our clients with an opportunity to raise any issues.
Propella have a flexible policy with regard to how our work can reproduced, published or communicated – we simply request notification of intent and information about how and where it will be used. Should we have no problems with this we will happily provide a letter of authorisation for use.
For general information about authorisation, it is worth noting that according to The Australian Copyright Council, only the owner of the copyright, or those authorised by expressed permission of the owner are allowed to do the following:
From time-to-time clients may wish to own the copyright for material produced for them by a creative agency. When ownership of copyright is transferred, the original owner relinquishes all rights to using the work at any time in the future – the work is effectively owned outright by the individual or company who have purchased copyright and the originator of the work is obliged to then seek authorisation from the new owner to use or publish the work.
It is often believed that a client gains ownership of copyright for creative output when they have paid for the services of a creative agency. This is not the case – they have simply bought the rights to use the work under the terms and conditions set out by the agency and standard copyright laws.
For example, when a company wishes to use a photograph owned by an image library, the rights to use it are purchased under the specific terms of the licence agreement – ownership of copyright has not been bought. Equally, how it is used and how long it can be used for is determined by the license and should this change, the cost of the licence also changes. If a client wishes to buy ownership, the photographer or image library will charge a fee for transfer of copyright. This sum is typically somewhat more substantial that the original licence fee. Photographers and image libraries do this because they relinquish all rights to the image and will no longer be able to earn any royalties from the image, control how, or where it is used, or seek compensation and fees from the image in any form.
The same principles apply to the work created by designers, web developers, artists and advertising creatives. Should a client wish to take ownership of copyright, an appropriate fee is negotiated.
Propella provide a flexible and accommodating policy to ownership of copyright for our clients. We are always happy to find a mutually acceptable agreement, licensing arrangement and an appropriate fee (where required) for the transfer of copyright ownership of the final work.
All works produced by individuals directly employed by Propella (such as freelancers and/or full-time or part-time employees) is owned by Propella and we reserve all rights to copyright ownership. Freelancers and employees who wish to use the work (for their portfolio or other use) must seek authorisation from Propella so that we can ensure our copyright ownership is not abused and any confidential client information we are party to is protected.
Where Propella have commissioned a third party supplier (as one might do with a photographer, illustrator or typographer), it is the third party supplier who owns the copyright for the material they specifically create (unless otherwise agreed upon).
The exception to this is the source material, sketches, diagrams, briefing notes and original work produced by Propella which is used by the supplier to create the work.
All material commissioned from a third party individual or company is subject to the copyright licence agreement with the third party. Propella is not responsible for the ownership, management or transfer of third party copyright licences. Clients may seek ownership of these licences directly from the third party and Propella is happy to act as an intermediary to assist negotiation and transfer of copyright
If work created by Propella has been reproduced, communicated or published without permission, or a suitable licence agreement has not been issued, our copyright may have been infringed.
We urge anyone who wish to use our work to seek our permission for use with details of how and where they wish to use it. We are friendly and accommodating to most requests.
If our work has been reproduced, communicated or published without permission or suitable licence, our copyright ownership may have been infringed. We ask anyone wishing to use Propella's work to seek our permission for use and outline how and where they wish to use it. We are flexible and accommodating to most requests.
Work created for the Australian Government, Government Departments or State and Territory Governments, or if they are deemed to be the first publisher of the work, will generally be regarded as the copyright owner.
Most countries grant copyright protection to material created in Australia as a result of international treaties signed by the Australian Government. Some countries have a system of registration for copyright ownership, however in most cases, registration is not necessary for protection or ownership of copyright. We recommend clients seek the services of an IP lawyer who will provide solid advice about international copyright law.
For more information about our policy please contact Propella. For general information about copyright law please contact IP Australia or the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA). For legal advice please contact Blair Beven at AJ Park.