Copyright found not to exist in headlines and bylines

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14 September 2010

The recent Federal Court decision of Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Reed International Books Australia Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 984 marks the first time an Australian court has decided the question of whether copyright can subsist in a newspaper headline or byline.

The decision is consistent with earlier copyright rulings on titles, short phrases and advertising slogans. The Court reinforced the long standing view of copyright law that like short phrases and titles, newspaper headlines are too trivial and insubstantial to attract copyright protection as literary works. The ruling confirms that organisations may generally continue to redistribute content through abstracts of copyright works as long as they cite the original copyright source.


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