Startup Law

How do I request a copyright license?

According to the LawAdvisor research team, Copyright refers to legal rights in original ideas, or works that are protected in Australia under the Copyright Act.

“Generally these rights give the author exclusive rights to license others in regard to copying the original work, broadcasting it, publishing it, etc,” the LawAdvisor Research team says.

“Depending on the nature of the work, copyright generally lasts for 70 years from the author's death. Legal action can be taken against a person who infringes someone’s copyright, although these can be difficult claims to make.”

When building an app for a smartphone or tablet, creators will often look at using copyrighted material from various sources.

An example source might be a copyrighted workbook includes surveys and questionnaires that an app designer wishes to use. 

Madgwicks partner and intellectual property law expert Dudley Kneller says it is important for creators to make sure they have legal rights to use the copyrighted content, before incorporating it into the app. 

“Emailing the content owner is a good start and you don’t have to provide anything more than a summary of your app along with your request,” he says.

“This will help reduce the risk of them “copying” your idea.

“If the content is important to include in your app you will need to ensure you obtain appropriate rights to use it. A lawyer can assist you with your initial request and can make sure you have broad rights to sue the content if the owner agrees to license it to you.”

According to the Copyright Agency, an Australian not-for-profit that represents the interests of content creators, there are a number of different types of permission, also known as lisences, that individuals and businesses can pursue.

These include Educational (Statutory) Licences, Commercial Licences, Government Licences, and Visual Art Licences. For more information, visit