Internet Security: Content Regulations, Copyright & Complaints

If you're unsure about whether you should post something online or how to make a complaint about something you've seen online, check out the info and links below.

What Can I Post or Publish Online?

There are rules about publishing content on the internet. Breaching these rules may give rise to criminal or civil liability under applicable State, Territory or Commonwealth law. The following categories of content are prohibited for hosting on servers within Australia.

Content that is (or would be) classified RC or X by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. This can include material that contains:

  • Detailed instruction on crime, violence or drug use
  • Child pornography
  • Bestiality
  • Excessively violent or sexually violent material
  • Real depictions of actual sexual activity

Content that is (or would be) classified R by the Office of Film and Literature Classification and is not subject to a restricted access system that complies with criteria determined by the ACMA. This can include material that contains:

  • Excessive and/or strong violence and sexual violence
  • Implied or simulated sexual activity
  • Issues or contains depictions which require an adult perspective

More information on classification can be obtained from the Classification Board.

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Copyright and Content

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by law to the authors of "original works of authorship". Original work on the Internet includes things such as software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, audio, news stories and certain other intellectual works. Copyright can be used to protect both published and unpublished works.

What is copyright protected?

Copyright protection extends to the core design of Web pages and the contents, including:

  • Unique markup language structure (HTML, VRML, etc)
  • Original text or images
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Graphics
  • Software
  • Applications
  • Original website lists
  • And any other elements that establish the original substance of the content

There are many ongoing debates over copyright and internet content. The internet contains an abundance of information, much of which has varying degrees of copyright protection.

What can happen If I breach copyright regulations?

As part of the free trade agreement with the United States, copyright regulations have been implemented (Copyright Amendment Regulations 2004/Copyright Act 1968). The regulations allow copyright owners to notify Optus directly if one of our customers is believed to be infringing on copyright.

Posting or disseminating material which violates the copyright or other intellectual property rights of others is a breach of the Optus Fair Go Policy Engaging in such activity may result in Optus suspending or cancelling your account and/or possible legal action from the copyright owner.

If you'd like to complain about a breach of copyright by an Optus customer

Copyright owners must notify Optus in a manner that is in accordance with the regulations, including all of the required information. You can notify us by:

  • Email:
  • Fax: 02 8085 9077
  • Mail: PO Box 888, North Ryde NSW 1670

Please note: Copyright issues surrounding internet content are still not fully resolved and this information only serves as a guide to help protect you from breaching any copyright laws.

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What Other Regulations Apply to Online Content?

Online content regulations place certain obligations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Optus and Internet Content Hosts (ICHs) like YouTube. ISPs will also sometimes be content hosts as well.

How do the regulations work?

Any Australian may complain to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner about illegal or offensive internet content. The Commissioner’s Office investigates complaints to assess whether the content is 'prohibited' as defined in Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The complaint form is available at:

There are two parts to the regulations

The first is that a content host in Australia must remove content that has been found by the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to be prohibited Internet content.

When an content host receives a notice from the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to remove content it must do so by 6.00 PM on the next working day. There are heavy penalties for non-compliance.

The second is that ISPs must provide their end users with access to both tools and information about the ways they can take greater control over the content which is accessible via internet services.

Refer to the section How Do I Stay Safe and Secure Online to start your journey in finding a suitable Security Software Provider.

The Children’s eSafety Commissioner notifies the providers of approved content filters of any prohibited overseas-hosted content reported to them, so that the filters are updated to block access to this content.

What else do ISPs and ICHs have to do?

Under the legislation and the codes of practice, ISPs and ICHs must also:

  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that internet access accounts are not provided to children under 18 without parental consent or the consent of a responsible adult
  • Provide end users with information about their rights and responsibilities online

Further information on regulations, content filtering and related topics can be found on the Children’s eSafety Commissioner’s website at:

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