I got a reply about my query as to the status of crown copyright photographs.

There was some concern about those that were not yet out of copyright on the US URAA date (ie 1 January 1996)

The UK government has declared that its crown copyright expire worldwide. The Australian government has confirmed that this is the case here too.

Put simply, all crown copyright photographs in 1966 or earlier are in the public domain.



Dear Dr Mallett,


Thank you for your letter of 17 March 2017 to Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, about copyright in photographs belonging to the Crown. Your letter has been forwarded to Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts, as copyright law and policy falls within the portfolio responsibilities of Minister Fifield. I am responding on**his**behalf.

The Government has recently amended the provisions in the /Copyright Act 1968/ relating to the term of protection for unpublished Crown photographs. The Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2017 passed in the Senate last week and will come into effect six months from the Bill receiving Royal Assent.

The changes set out in the Copyright Amendment Bill provide a new term of protection for unpublished Crown copyright material. The amendments repealed sections 180 and 181 of the Copyright Act 1968 and inserted a new, consolidated section 180 that provides for a new standard term of protection for works, sound recordings and cinematograph films owned by the Crown of 50 years from the year in which the material is made (that is, ‘date made plus 50 years’), whether the material is made public or not. You can find the text to the Bill on the Australian Parliament House website: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5832

You also asked whether Australian Government copyright material would be in the public domain in the United States and I confirm that once the term of copyright protection expires in Australia, the domain is worldwide and not limited to Australia.

I trust this information will be of assistance and apologise for the delay in responding.

Kind regards,


*Ruth Schofield*

A/g Assistant Director */* Content and Copyright Branch*/ *Content Division

Department of Communications and the Arts

38 Sydney Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601


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