Copyright matters for students


NB for students taking courses outside Australia: you are subject to the copyright laws of the country in which you are studying. However, much of the legislation is similar to that of Australia, and you will still be expected to abide by the terms of the University’s own policies in respect of copyright, intellectual property, and the use of electronic resources in general.

Copyright overview



Is there anything else?

What is copyright? Copyright is the legal system intended to balance the requirements of both creators and users of intellectual works. A work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is created in material form.

‘Material forms’ include text, sound recording, email, film, photograph, digital formats, etc.

Even if you do not see the copyright symbol - © - you should assume that a work is protected by the copyright laws
Who owns the copyright in a work? Usually the creator of a work is the first copyright owner; copyright can be sold or given to other people.

Copyright in films and sound recordings is usually held by the producer; and copyright in radio and tv broadcasts is owned by the broadcaster.
If two or more people collaborate on a work, they have joint ownership in the copyright.
What is a ‘work’? A ‘work’ is the tangible or material expression of an idea: fiction and non-fiction books, journal and newspaper articles, photographs, diagrams, plays, film scripts, musical scores, poems, computer programs, websites, etc.

Unit readings and other study materials
All of the materials provided to you by the University are ‘works’ that are protected by copyright – this includes study guides, lecture notes, lesson plans, quizzes, etc. available in or through your unit website/LMS, as well as articles, book chapters, etc in My Unit Readings, plus recorded lectures and other audio-visual content.
Films, television and radio programs, sound and music recordings, etc. are also protected by copyright.

It is illegal for you to pass these works onto anyone outside the University, or to upload them to study sites such as Course Hero, etc.  Such activities can incur severe penalties under both University policy and international law.
What does copyright mean for authors and other copyright owners of works? Copyright owners have ‘exclusive rights’ that control the reproduction and use of their work.

This is sometimes expressed as ‘all rights reserved’.

The copyright owner’s permission is required for most uses of their work, although the Copyright Act does makes some exceptions to the rights so that works, or parts of a work, can be used in certain situations without explicit permission.
The exclusive rights of the copyright owner are:
. to reproduce or copy a work
. to publish a work
. to perform a work
. to make an electronic communication of a work
. to adapt a work
What does copyright mean for people who want to use copyright protected works?

Usually the copyright owner must give permission for someone to use their work; and they may also charge a royalty.

However, copyright law makes certain ‘exceptions’ where neither permission nor payment is required. The most relevant exception for undergraduate students is ‘Fair Dealing for Research & Study’.

This provision allows you to copy a ‘reasonable portion’ of a work without having to ask permission from the copyright owner, or having to pay any royalty fee, if it is for your studies.

Whilst you can rely on Fair Dealing to incorporate audio-visual works in your assignments, these must not be put online, or submitted for competitions or festivals.

The Copyright Act also provides the licences that allow educational institutions to use copyright protected works for educational purposes.

Readings (in print or online) supplied to you by the University are protected by copyright and/or licences – whilst you can download a copy for your own reading, they must not be copied and passed on to anyone else.
What is a ‘reasonable portion’ that I can copy?

A reasonable portion is:
• 10% of the pages or 1 chapter of a book
• 1 article from any one issue of a journal or newspaper;
• 2 or more articles from the one issue if they’re all for the same research or course of study.
• a work of fewer than 15 pages from an anthology

see: A Reasonable Portion to Copy

eBooks: you should be able to copy at least a reasonable portion of an ebook; their terms of use may allow more, so check each one for the specific amount permitted.

Are there any exceptions to the
‘reasonable portion’ limits?
Yes, if copyright has expired in the book you can copy as much as you like.

Yes, if the book is out of print – please contact the Library if you think this may be the case.

Yes, if you need the book in a different format because you have a print disability – please contact the Library if this is the case.
see: Duration of Copyright

see: Copying Out of Print

see: Copying for Students with a Print Disability
How long does copyright protection last? Copyright in most published works lasts for 70 years from the death of the creator.

The length of copyright protection is different for photographs, films, sound recordings, performances, and published editions.
see: Duration of Copyright

When © expires the work enters the ‘public domain’ which means that anyone can do anything they like with it.
What about the internet? The internet is not a copyright-free zone: check any copyright information or terms-of- use on the site.

Many websites offer the option to download copies of articles etc – if you see a printer or PDF icon, for instance, this gives you implicit permission to do so for your personal use e.g. for study.

It is against the law, and the University’s code of practice if you use university equipment or network, to download infringing materials – unauthorised copies of films, music, and so on.

These activities can be traced very easily and incur severe penalties – including the risk of exclusion from the University.
see: Using Text & Images from the Internet








University code of practice in the use of computing and network facilities
Is there anything that is not automatically protected by copyright? Ideas, concepts, and facts are not protected by copyright.

Names, single words, short phrases, and titles are not covered by copyright.
It is the particular expression of an idea that is protected e.g. as a song, a novel, or a diagram.

The Trade Marks or Trade Practices Acts may apply to business names, etc.
“some rights reserved”


“all rights reserved”
Creative Commons is a licensing system for creators (musicians, artists, authors, institutions) to cede some of their ‘exclusive rights’, allowing their works to be used more freely by the public.

You can find CC licensed works through Google, Yahoo, etc. as well as the Creative Commons site

See: Creative Commons and other Open Access materials

to use a Creative Commons licensed work click on the creative Commons icon to see what activities are allowed

e.g. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.