Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsPROFESSOR: Meet Carl Copyright. One day, Carl has a great idea for a song. He writes down the words to his song. Does he own the copyright in the words? Carl writes some music to accompany his song. Does Carl own the copyright in the music he's written down? Carl composes his music on a computer and makes a recording of himself singing his song. Does Carl own the copyright in this sound recording of the song? Does Carl need to register his copyright? Carl is proud of his song recording, so he uploads it onto YouTube so the whole world can enjoy it. What does this mean for Carl's copyright? Sonya Surfer likes spending time online.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsSonia finds Carl's song on YouTube and enjoys listening to it. She posts the URL on her own website. Is she breaching Carl's copyright? What about if she creates a satirical version of Carl's song and posts that on her website? Sonya finds a new movie online. It's currently screening in the cinemas, but she seems to be able to download it for free. She goes ahead and does this. Does Sonya breach any laws if she downloads this movie for free? Sonia often visits a local nursing home. She decides to hook up the movie from her laptop to play it on a projector for all the residents to watch.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsShe thinks a movie night will cheer them all up, and it does indeed appear to make them happy. Has Sonia breached any laws by screening the movie for everyone? It was such a popular night that Sonia Surfer thinks she might actually screen another new movie next week. She begins to spread the word so that others can attend too. Does it make a difference if Sonia charges a small admission fee for her nursing home movie nights?

Case study 1: Carl Copyright

Watch the “Carl Copyright” case study for examples of everyday situations that may include copyright infringement.

Talking point

Within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners your thoughts on the situation faced by Carl in the case study:

  • Carl writes down the words to his song. Does he own the copyright in the words?

  • Carl also writes some music to accompany his song. Does he own the copyright in the music he has written down?

  • Carl makes a recording of himself singing his song. Does Carl own the copyright in this sound recording of the song and does he need to register this copyright?

  • Carl uploads his song to YouTube. What does this mean for Carl’s copyright?

  • Sonia finds Carl’s song on YouTube and then posts his song on her personal website. Is she breaching Carl’s copyright? What if she created a satirical version of Carl’s song and posts that on her website?

  • Sonia finds a new movie online. It’s currently screening in the cinemas, but she seems to be able to download it for free. Does Sonia breach any laws if she downloads this movie for free?

  • Sonia often visits a nursing home. She decides to play the new movie to the residents of the nursing home. Has sonia breached any laws by screening the movie for everyone?

  • Sonia decides to play another new movie for the residents, but this time promotes the event so more people can attend. Does it make a difference if she charges a small admission fee for her nursing home movie nights?


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This video is from the free online course:

Law for Non-Lawyers: Introduction to Law

Monash University