Managing your copyright
Copyright is automatic once your creation is in a material form. There is no need to register it. As the author of a work or a maker of a film or sound recording, you will own the copyright in the first instance, as a general rule. For further detail on student vs staff vs University ownership of copyright in certain types of material, consult the QUT Intellectual Property policy.
Although there is no requirement to put a copyright statement on your work, it is good practice. It alerts the world to the fact that it is copyright material and advises who is the owner. You should give some thought to what you will allow people to do with your work. Do you want to reserve all rights to the owner, except for the user rights granted by the Copyright Act? In this case, you need do nothing, except put the copyright symbol © and Copyright Your_name 2014.
Or do you want to allow certain users to do more? For example, you might be happy for people to copy your material for educational purposes. In this case, you should consider some of the alternatives to the all rights reserved approach to copyright. You can write your own copyright statement specifying what you will permit users to do. Another approach is to use a standard licence such as those provided by Creative Commons. The websites of these organizations contain a great deal of useful information on copyright and licensing content and take you through the process. Contact the Copyright Officer for more information.
When you submit your work to a publisher, you will be asked to sign a publication agreement. Read it carefully. If it asks you to transfer your copyright to the publisher, you should make sure you understand what that means. If the transfer is not qualified in any way, it will mean that only the publisher will be able to reproduce, publish, communicate, perform or adapt the work. That means you will have to ask their permission to do any of these things. Make sure you retain some rights of re-use for yourself. Alternatively, you could retain the copyright and give the publisher a licence to publish.
The Australian Copyright Council website provides information sheets that give further advice on protecting and licensing copyright.
Deriving income from your copyright
If you expect to derive income from your work, you could consider becoming a member of a copyright collecting society. The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) is relevant to publishers, authors and illustrators. CAL is the body that collects the remuneration from educational institutions and government departments for the copying and communication of published material. It is then responsible for distributing money to copyright owners whose works are copied, but only if they become members of CAL. Becoming a member of CAL means you can quickly be identified as the copyright owner and receive any payments promptly. You can find out more about membership by visiting the CAL website.
If you write music, you could consider becoming a member of the Australian Performing Right Association (APRA). APRA collects licence fees for the performance of musical compositions in public, whether live or recorded music. For more information, visit the APRA website.
If you are a visual artist and wish to license your work for use by others, you could consider becoming a member of Vi$copy, which is a visual arts copyright collecting society. For more information visit the Viscopy website.