If you are a content collector:
If you own a website that people contribute content to you cannot use posted content for your own purposes unless you have permission. This permission can be sought after the content is posted but generally websites will have a set of terms and conditions which the contributor must agree to before posting any content.
This also applies to allowing other people to use the content others have posted to your site.
One thing to be aware of as a content collector is that unless you specify otherwise in your terms and conditions, you will be responsible for anyone who contributes non-original content even if they do so unknowingly.
This information came from a government fact sheet, follow the link to read the real deal!
If you are a content maker:
In Australia you are automatically placed under copyright protection for creating:
- literary works (e.g. written works such as the content on your blog, computer programs, compilations, novels, screenplays, song lyrics);
- artistic works (e.g. paintings, drawings, photographs, maps and plans);
- dramatic works (e.g. choreography, screenplays, plays);
- musicals works (which are separate from the sound recording or the lyrics); and
- films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions.
However, this law can be overridden by the terms and conditions of the site you use to share them. As such it is very important to be aware of where you publish your content.
It is taking some time for copyright laws to catch up with web 2.0, and it is quite possible that it never will as the internet evolves so quickly.
Just about everything on the internet will have some sort of copyright breach attached to it - and it is almost impossible to seek the appropriate permissions at the rate that things are shared.
If you do want to upload a work that you have created it is best to state explicitly and in plain English who owns the copyright and whether you will allow the item to be copied or uploaded by other people.
This information was adapted from this artslaw factsheet.
If you are a content sharer:
I think that content sharers have the simplest job in all of this:
If you didn't create the work yourself then reference it!
Provide a link back to the original source and check that it is o.k. to use the content for your purposes. We are all guilty of copyright infringement on the net - I have no doubt that I have missed something on this blog even.
Referencing original content will lead to a higher quality of online material, something that will benefit us all!