Copyright for students

Copyright for students

Students can copy and communicate limited amounts of works under "fair dealing" without having to seek the permission of the copyright owner. To rely on fair dealing, the use of the material must be fair and for the purpose of one of the following:

  1. research or study;
  2. criticism or review;  
  3. parody or satire; or
  4. reporting the news.

Most of the copying students do will fall under fair dealing for research and study. In some  cases, a student will be copying material under both fair dealing for research and study and another fair dealing purpose such parody and satire or criticism and review.  Overall, deciding whether a student's use is 'fair' will be determined largely by how much of the work has been copied. This can be tricky as the Copyright Act provides little guidance on what constitutes a 'fair' amount.

How much is 'fair'?

The Copyright Act states that students are permitted to copy a reasonable portion of a literary, dramatic or musical work in both print and electronic form for the purpose of research or study. Reasonable portion is defined to be 10% of the number of pages or one chapter if the work divided into chapters.

In all other cases, the Copyright Act is silent on how much a student can copy for their use to be 'fair'. This means that no guidance is provided on how much of:

  • A sound recording, film/moving image or broadcast can be used by a student under fair dealing for the purpose of research or study.
  • Any work can be copied under fair dealing for criticism or review, parody or satire or reporting of the news.

As a general rule, students should only copy what is necessary for the fair dealing purpose to ensure that their use is 'fair'. In most cases, this will only be an extract of the work and not the whole work. For example, in preparing an essay, a student is likely to copy several pages from a book or an article from a journal. This is permitted provided the extracts copied are necessary for the student's research or study. Further, if the student is making a parody of a song or film, it is unlikely that the student will need to copy the whole work for the fair dealing purpose. In such a case, copying an extract of the song or film as necessary will be 'fair'.

In limited circumstances, a student may be permitted to copy a whole work provided the whole work is necessary for the fair dealing purpose. For example, a student may need to copy an entire short poem when preparing a critique on the poem.

Overall, when relying on fair dealing, students must:

  • Use extracts and not whole works. In rare cases, a whole work can be copied provided it is necessary for the fair dealing purpose.
  • Always attribute the author and publisher where the source is known.

Copyright & plagiarism

The relationship between copyright and plagiarism can be tricky to understand. Plagiarism is a type of misconduct that, in some cases, may also give rise to copyright infringement.

Plagiarism occurs where a student uses someone else's ideas or words in their work and pretends they are their own. If the student has used a lot of someone else's words without that person's permission, copyright infringement may also occur.

Attributing material

All third party material used in your work should be labelled with the details of the copyright owner and author (if different to the copyright owner), the name of the work, where the material was copied from and when it was copied.

For example, using an Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr should be attributed in the following way "Hai Linh Truong, Sydney Harbour Bridge, August, 2014, available under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial ShareAlike 2.0 licence".

Obtaining permission

You will need to seek permission from the copyright owner if you wish to use the work in a way which is not permitted by fair dealing.

Only a copyright owner can give permission, known as a licence, for others to copy, communicate (upload online or email) and/or perform their work.

Sometimes the copyright owner will ask for payment in exchange for giving permission.  Other times, the copyright owner will give permission to use their work for free subject to certain conditions, such as with Creative Commons licences.

Smart tips on managing copyright

Link to material

Linking is not a copyright activity. This is because you are not actually 'copying' or 'communicating' any material, you are just providing a path to its location on another website.

Providing links to material on external websites will not infringe copyright and you do not need to seek permission from the website owner to include a link to their website.

Use embedded links 

Embedding is another type of linking, except you don't have to leave your website (e.g. blog or wiki) or intranet to access the content. It is commonly used for displaying online films, e.g. YouTube films, on websites.

Embedding involves copying the HTML code of the film, which is often displayed in a box near the film, and pasting it onto your website. The result of this is, rather than displaying the link, a small screen of the film will be shown on your website.

The primary advantage to embedding material is that you do not need to copy the material in order to make it available on your website. Some websites, such as YouTube, provide the link for embedding films. This makes embedding an easy and practical alternative to copying.

Create your own material

If you are using material that is your own original work and does not contain any material created by another person, you do not need to rely on the fair dealing exceptions as you are the copyright owner.

It is important that you label your original work with your name and the year it was created. This is so others know that the work is your original work and that you own copyright in that work.

Use Creative Commons Material

Creative Commons is a set of licences which creators attach to their work. All Creative Commons licences allow the material to be used for free for educational purposes.

Using Creative Commons in your work can be a practical alternative to relying on the fair dealing exceptions. This is particularly because the fair dealing exceptions are complex, making it difficult for a student to:

  • Copy an entire work or large portions of a work; and
  • Modify and remix a work.

There are six standard Creative Commons licences. The table below lists these licences and the different conditions which attach to each.

Licence type Licence conditions

Attribution
Copyright Commons Attribution logo

Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute to anyone provided the copyright owner is attributed.
Attribution No Derivatives
Copyright Commons Attribution No Derivatives
Freely use, copy and distribute to anyone but only in original form. The copyright owner must be attributed.
Attribution Share Alike
Copyright Commons Attribution Share Alike
Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute provided the new work is licensed under the same terms as the original work. The copyright owner must be attributed.
Attribution Non-Commercial
Copyright Commons Attribution Non Commercial
Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute for non-commercial purposes. The copyright owner must be attributed.
Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives
Copyright Commons Non-Commercial No Derivatives
Freely use, copy and distribute to anyone but only in original form for non-commercial purposes. The copyright owner must be attributed.
Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
Copyright Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike
Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute for non-commercial purposes provided the new work is licensed under the same terms as the original work. The copyright owner must be attributed.

For further assistance contact copyright@mq.edu.au

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