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Research Guides

A Nation's Imagination: Australia’s Copyright Records, 1854–1968

4 International Copyright

International copyright was first realised in Australian legislation with the introduction of the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1905 and abandoned with the Copyright Act 1968. The provision for international copyright was not frequently used, hence the small amount of material held by the National Archives of Australia.


Please note that all indexes referred to earlier contain international registrations.

Title and name index of performing right and international copyright applications, 1916–36
Canberra (Adelaide)

This series contains a single index divided into four sections – the title index to performing rights, the name index performing rights, the title index to international copyright (called Titles and Subjects, though it contains the same level of information as the title index to performing rights) and the name index to international copyright.

Page numbering is discrete within each section. The information is set out in columns arranged slightly differently in the title and name sections. The title sections provide information on the title, nature of work, name and number. The name sections provide information on the name, number and nature and title of the work. In each section the name refers to the holder of copyright, many of whom are large companies such as J C Williamson, Universal Pictures, and Hugh J Ward Theatres Pty Ltd. This is a particularly rich source for identifying theatrical material, where the titles alone often provide a stark contrast between the dramatic – eg 'Ben and John Fuller Ltd, Her Husband's Other Wife, no. 10487, by J F Preston (Max Goldburg)' – and the comic – eg 'Pitter Patter, musical comedy, J C Williamson Ltd, no. 9309'.

Entries in the name indexes sometimes cross-reference the author (who is not the holder of the copyright) to one of these organisations but the registration number, title, and type of work is not provided. For example, 'Arkell, R – see Hugh J Ward Theatres Pty Ltd'. Under the entries for the company, the author is given with the title of the piece – 'Hugh J Ward Theatres Pty Ltd, no. 11495, musical play – The Last Waltz by R Arkell and R Evett'.

Individual authors are not cross-referenced in the title indexes. However, the title and the number can be checked against the company entry in the name index to find an author's name. The title and type of work are not always given in the international sections. There are several examples of passing references to famous performers, such as 'Woods, Lotta – see Douglas Fairbanks, no. 137'.

Not all titles are given as they would appear on the work. The practice of reordering them is arbitrary and they are rarely cross-referenced. When using this index, it is necessary to search under all possible name configurations to locate some titles. The indexes are listed on RecordSearch, but the entries they contain are not. Individual items may be ordered (where they still exist) from A1336 and A1714.

Title index for performing rights

p. 9, 'Bushwoman, The', drama, 1166 Smith, J.

p. 12, Chinatown Blues, song, 10739 Hornery, W J.

p. 34, It's Best to Tell Your Wife, farce, 11085 Hicks, S.

Name index for performing right

p. 49, MacCarthy, C W, opera, Lady Nora or The New Society, copyright no. 614

p. 55, Pease, S T, see Fuller's Theatres and Vaudeville Ltd.

p. 61, Samuel French Ltd, comedy, I'll Leave It to You, Noel Coward, copyright no. 14971

Title index for international copyright

p. 2, Episode on the Links, play, William C Fields (the corresponding item in A1714 contains a typed script), copyright no. 109

p. 3, Flit Kills Insects Etc, Standard Oil Coy, copyright no. 174

p. 3, Granny's Heilan Hame, musical, Thomas M MacFarlane, copyright no. 210

Name index for international copyright

p. 2, Albert and Son (J), song, Sometime, copyright no. 179

p. 4, Hertz Drive ur self [sic] System, book, I B Babcock, copyright no. 151

p. 9. Universal Pictures Corp'n, cinema, Thoroughbreds, copyright no. 193

Series: A1964
Quantity: 0.09 metres (0.09 metres)
Recorded by: 1916–30 Copyright Office [II] (CA 556); 1930–36 Copyright Office [III] (CA 555 [5])
Image 16: Lady wearing a 'fascinator', 1908.

Image 16: Lady wearing a 'fascinator', 1908.
NAA: A1714, 5
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Registration forms and exhibits

International copyright files, 1907–40

This series covers the period in which the Copyright Act made provision for the registration of international copyright. Items are arranged numerically from 1 to 247.

Most files contain both applications for copyright registration and exhibits, many of which provide valuable details about the work in scripts and associated correspondence. They may also contain all or any of the following: the application form, certificate of registration, statement of address, form appointing a local agent and other items of correspondence.

Most certificates of registration have a printed number in the top left-hand corner as well as a stamped number. The stamped number is the actual international registration number. The printed number does not appear to correlate to anything within related registers or indexes.

The range of applications includes drawings, books, comic opera scores, maps, films, songs (scores and lyrics), teaching systems, and performing rights for plays (eg A1714, 50, below). The series is listed in detail on RecordSearch.

Series: A1714
Quantity: 3.07 metres
Recorded by: 1907–12 Copyright Office (CA 555 [4]); 1913–30 Copyright Office (CA 556); 1930–40 Copyright Office (CA 555 [5])
Photographic print, Lady's Head with Fascinator, 1908

This item, which is digitised, contains correspondence in German with an English translation. The 'fascinator' is the lace head-covering worn by the lady featured in the photograph, although it is not entirely clear that this is the product being advertised in the image. Registered by Neve Photographische Geselleschaft A-G.

A1714, 5
Photograph of painting, HRH Duke of York opening the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia [in 1901], 1908

This item was registered by A E Langford (domestic fine arts registration no. 3365) in 1902.

A1714, 11
Photograph of a painting, Chorus, Arthur Joseph Levi, 1908 A1714, 16
Comedietta, Happy Pair, 1908

The registration for this entry by publishers Samuel French Ltd contains a copy of the printed script, which has French's familiar exhaustive stage directions, and detailed drawings and notes for the sets printed on the inside covers. The item also contains a complete list of the plays owned by Samuel French Ltd at that time.

A1714, 32
Charity Begins at Home, 1908

This is a one act 'musical proverb', registered for Joseph Williams Ltd. This item contains two manuscript copies of the script with lyrics and two manuscript copies of the music score, also with lyrics.

A1714, 50
Sunday School Almanac, 1910

Arbuckle, Waddell and Fawckner.

A1714, 58
The Australian Stud Book, Vol. VII, 1910

Written by Archibald Yuille, this 1909 publication will be invaluable to researchers interested in the history of racehorse breeding.

A1714, 65
The Six States of the Australian Union are united by one central figure driving six distinct horses . . . be One, 1911

This is a photograph of a drawing by Lydia Phillips.

A1714, 69
The Midnight Wedding, 1911

This dramatic production was registered by Clarke and Meynell Pty Ltd. The item contains a typed manuscript and an application for the performing right for this play, which was first performed at The Junction Theatre, Manchester on 30 October 1905.

A1714, 80
Cabira, 1915

This file contains copies of the script for Cabiria, an early Italian film. A copy of the power-of-attorney for the Australian representative, Hugh Donald McIntosh, also appears. The copies of the screenplay are in Italian – very ornate as indicated by the cover – with an English translation. Several strips of nitrate film that originally accompanied the registration were removed and destroyed because they had deteriorated beyond recovery. This is not the better known 1957 Fellini film, Nights of Cabiria.

A1714, 102
Image 17: Poster for <em>Cabiria</em>, 1915.

Image 17: Poster for Cabiria, 1915.
NAA: A1714, 102
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Price list of parts for the Model T Ford, 1917

Ford Motor Company of Canada, illustrated printed booklet.

A1714, 107
Kimble's Vocational Vocabularies for Stenographers and Court Reporters, 1923

E J Kimble Company.

A1714, 131
The Thief of Bagdad [sic], 1925

Douglas Fairbanks aka Elton Thomas, adaptation of screenplay by Lotta Woods. The item includes the full cast list.

A1714, 137
Cinematograph production, The White Sister, 1926

This item consists of two albums of photographic stills from The White Sister, starring Lillian Gish and Ronald Coleman. The images are annotated on the reverse with descriptions of the scene they represent. The copyright registration was to Inspiration Pictures Inc. The item also contains a synopsis of the film's plot.

A1714, 161
Two Black Crows on Their Way to Canada, 1929

Charles E Selders, one of several 'Two Black Crows' (Zeb and Amos) vaudeville sketches.

A1714, 205
Am I Blue, 1930

M Witmark and Sons, song from On with the Show. Lyrics by Grant Clarke, music by Harry Akst, sung by Ethel Waters.

A1714, 222