The Federal Court’s Justice Bennett has ruled that no copyright exists in headlines, in a defining copyright law case brought by Fairfax Media Publications against Reed International Books Australia (trading as Lexis Nexis)

Justice Bennett found that Fairfax had failed to prove that any of the ten selected Australian Financial Review headlines it submitted was a discrete work of joint authorship in which copyright could subsist

The judgement stated at [159-162]: “As to whether Reed, in reproducing and communicating headlines of the AFR as part of [its] Abstracts, takes a substantial part of any of the contended works: - Even if the Article/Headline Combination constitutes a copyright work, Reed does not take a substantial part of such a work. - Reed does not take a substantial part of either the Article Compilation or the Edition Work.” “Reed’s conduct in reproducing and communicating the AFR headlines as part of the Abstracts is a fair dealing for the purpose of reporting news, such that Reed’s conduct would not constitute an infringement of copyright by reason of s 42(1)(b) of the Act.” (See full judgement at: More information about this news alert at: For any queries in relation to copyright law please contact Adam Simpson