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Under Australian copyright law, literary, dramatic, andmusical work published, performed, communicated, or recorded and offered for sale in an author's lifetime are, if the author died in or before 1954, protected for the life of the author plus fifty years from the end of the year of the author's death. Therefore, for a work to be in the "public domain" in Australia, it is only necessary that the author died in or before 1954 and that the work was published (not necessarily in Australia) during her/his lifetime. As an example, the works of George Orwell, who died in 1950, are in the "public domain" in Australia. Where an author died after 1954 the copyright period is the life of the author plus seventy years from the end of the year of the author's death.
Of course, works may remain copyrighted in other countries. One cannot legally download or read books posted at Project Gutenbrg of Australia if one is in a country where copyright protections extend more than 50 years past an author's death. The author's estate and publishers still retain their legal and moral rights to oversee the work in those countries.
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Updated 20 July 2007