Key messages

  • Cemetery trusts are required to maintain records in relation to interments, places of interments, cremations and rights of interments.
  • Some hard-copy records are being converted to electronic records.
  • Cemetery trusts need to maintain copyright for any converted records.

Under s. 59 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, a cemetery trust is required to maintain records in relation to interments, places of interments, cremations and rights of interments. Many of these records are only kept in a hard copy format. Some cemetery trusts, either themselves or via a third party, have been converting these records into electronic versions either by scanning the hard copy documents or by transcribing them.

This page provides advice regarding steps a trust should take to ensure it will hold copyright for any electronic version of trust records created.

Cemetery trusts – maintaining copyright

Cemetery trusts hold copyright of all original trust records, as the trust is the owner of the records. Problems may arise in relation to copyright when a new version of the original trust's records is created and the person who created the new version is claiming ownership for the work undertaken.

Before a trust engages a person to create a new version or edit existing records (whether or not that person holds a position on the trust), it is suggested that the trust:

  • discuss the nature of the arrangement with the person who is going to undertake the work, including the purpose, scope and costs
  • formalise the arrangement in a legally binding document that states
    • that the trust will retain all intellectual property rights (including copyright) in all trust records and materials
    • that the trust will own the copyright for all new records created or existing records amended by the person
    • that the person gives consent in writing, in relation to all rights that are necessary for the trust to have copyright for all versions of the trust's records
    • whether the person will be paid for the work and, if so, the amount that the person will be paid
    • the scope that the new or amended records may be used for, including if the records may be sold.

Legal advice about copyright

The trust may wish to seek legal advice when creating an agreement. The trust may also wish to seek legal advice if it is unclear who has copyright over particular documents.

Transferring records to the Public Records Office Victoria

Certain cemetery trust records must be transferred to the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) for retention as State Archives once they are no longer actively required to assist in the delivery of cemetery functions. Permanent records must not be destroyed. 

Advice for trusts on which records must be transferred to PROV is available on the PROV website : search for keyword ‘cemetery’ then click on ‘Filter’.

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