In Pacific Film Laboratories v. Commissioner of Tax
(1970) 121 CLR 154, (Australia) Windeyer J defined copyright: "It is not a right in an existing thing. It is a negative right, as it has been called, a power to prevent the making of a physical thing by copying.
The Pacific Film Laboratories v. Commissioner of Tax
was regarding whether the reproduction of prints owned by a third party, for that third party was an act of sale which could incur sales tax. Pacific Film argued that as it had no property right in the prints, it was not selling anything to the customer which might be taxed. The High Court rejected this argument saying that when Pacific Film reproduced the customer's negatives, under authorisation from the customer, the copyright
was owned by the customer but the chattel
produced in the process of reproduction was owned by Pacific Film. The sale of this
chattel to the customer incurred the sales tax.
Reynolds IP, Chapter 2: [