Copyright is a set of legal rights designed to strike a balance between allowing creators to get paid and have some control over how their work is used, and also allowing other people to use that work in ways that don’t exploit the creator.Copyright is one of several forms of intellectual property and is separate from patents (inventions), and trademarks (brand names, slogans etc.). Copyright does not apply to ideas and only subsists in expression of ideas in formats like written text, images, photos, artworks, films, music, software code, sound recordings, webpages, and broadcasts.
What does copyright protection do?
Copyright works on ‘all rights reserved’ system, giving the copyright owner the exclusive right to:
These rights can be assigned or licensed to others. You are generally not allowed to do any of the listed activities without a licence, permission, or legal exception (such as using it for personal research).
The following general rules apply to materials made after 1955:
See the Duration of Copyright from the Australian Government for more specific or pre-1955 information. Once copyright has expired, the work is considered to be in the ‘Public Domain’ and other people no longer require permission to use it.
Fair Use is the premise that you can use copyright material without permission because your use is ‘fair’. Australia does not have Fair Use, and the university is not able to use copyright material just because the situation may be fair or educational. Australia does have an alternative called Fair Dealing, which defines a set of uses that do not require permission if an individual is using a limited amount of copyright material for one of those specified uses only. The most applicable in the university setting is Fair Dealing for Research or Study, which allows individuals to copy an image or 10% of a text for their personal study (e.g. a student using within an assignment or someone saving a copy of an article to read later). In those circumstances, permission to copy is not required. This applies to personal research only, University staff are not able to use Fair Dealing exceptions to communicate material to other audiences (e.g. in a research publication or FLO).
How is copyright different to referencing?
The purpose of referencing is to properly acknowledge your sources so you can give credit to others and not pass off their work as your own. Citing your sources is both a legal requirement (called moral rights), as well as an ethical requirement to meet academic integrity standards.
Copyright permission, on the other hand, is not just about acknowledging the author of work you’ve copied, but also having permission to copy it in the first place. Although there is a special exception which allows students to copy limited material in assignments without permission, in other situations it is not the case that you can use anything by only referencing it. When reproducing an actual copy of someone else’s material (as opposed to just referring to it), you will require a licence or permission to do this, whether you’re publishing, posting online, or causing it to be seen by others publicly through some other means. There is sometimes a fee that needs to be paid to reproduce or perform someone else’s work and the university has some prepaid licences to use material for teaching purposes.
Can I use material from the public domain?
The public domain is a legal term that describes the realm of works in which copyright has expired. If the duration of copyright has expired, then there is no longer any copyright protection and anyone can use it (make copies, perform, share and adapt) without permission.
Contrary to popular belief, the public domain does not refer to anything found on the world wide web or otherwise free and open to the public. Items found freely online are still protected by copyright, even if there is no indication of this. So, although you can freely reproduce material that is in the ‘public domain’, you should not assume that the items you want to use are from the public domain.
Who owns copyright?
The creator (e.g. author or artist) of material initially owns the copyright in it. However, if the material is created as a part of a person’s employment, then the employer (such as Flinders University) would be the owner unless there is an alternative agreement in place. Copyright can be transferred, so it is common for publishers and other organisations to end up owning copyright. Students own copyright in their own university work and theses.
Who owns the copyright in work I do for the university?
An employer has a legal right to copyright of materials created as part of a person’s employment. The Flinders University Intellectual Property Policy outlines ownership of copyright in work created by staff members, academic status holders, and students. The university asserts ownership of work produced by staff, including teaching material and research outputs. If staff produce work for publication, they are permitted to transfer the university’s copyright to the publisher in order to get published. By default, students own any of the material they create.
When do students own copyright?
By default, students own copyright in their own creations, including assignments created as a part of university studies. If a Topic Coordinator would like to share a copy of a student’s assignment as an exemplar in future study periods, permission from the student is required. The university has no claim in student’s work unless there is a specific contract in place (such as for work placement or a joint research project). See more information on Copyright for Students.
Do I have to register copyright ownership?
No, in Australia copyright arises as soon as the work is created; there is no formal registration process. This means as soon as you record or write something substantial down, it is protected by copyright. You also do not have to include a copyright symbol or statement for it to be protected by copyright, although it is recommended.
Can copyright be transferred to another party?
Yes, you can transfer your copyright to another person or organisation. To be legally binding this must be done in writing. You will lose the right to copy, publish, perform, adapt and communicate the material if you transfer your copyright (although you may be able to enter into a contract that allows you some reuse rights).
Flinders University staff can transfer copyright to academic publishers when publishing. Other transfers and collaborations require a formal contract to be prepared by Legal Services which outlines share of ownership.
Can I share articles which I've downloaded from a library database with colleagues and students?
Journal articles and databases come with licence terms and conditions on how they can be used, these typically prohibit sharing PDFs. Even though the Library pays for access, you may only download copies for your individual use. To share articles with students, you must add them to a Reading List so that the library can ensure an appropriately licensed copy is used. Although you cannot share copies of publications, you can share the citation and link/ URL with others. When sharing with colleagues from another organisation, you should use the ‘Share’ function on the journal website or copy the DOI link (starts with https://doi.org/) to send them so that they can access the article through their own library’s subscription.
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Can I upload PDFs to FLO for students to access?
PDF readings cannot be uploaded directly to FLO (with exception of university owned material created for that topic). You should submit all titles through a Readings Query in Service One, a librarian will then manage the copyright and have licensed copies of PDFs uploaded for you. For scanned readings, the Library will make a high quality scan and make sure it is searchable and compatible with screen reading software. Using the Reading List instead of uploading directly to FLO allows you to comply with university policy and educational licensing schemes.
I'm running a professional development workshop/course for non-Flinders staff. Can I copy book chapters and/or share articles downloaded from library databases?
For these types of courses it is often easier to rely on materials which are freely available online. For example: open access journals, linking to materials from institutional repositories (like ResearchNow), government and NGO reports, open educational resources and materials with Creative Commons licences. You may still not be able to copy these materials in every instance however you can provide links to them.Contact the Copyright Librarian for further information.
Can I post photographs on social media if I acknowledge the source?
If the photo was not taken by a university staff member, then you will most likely need permission to use it on social media. Simply attributing the original source is not sufficient, actual permission is required (see: How is copyright different to referencing?).
Many people now release photographs online under Creative Commons licences which allow you to use them for free without needing to ask permission. You can find Creative Commons licensed photographs by using Creative Commons Search. You also don’t need permission to use images where the copyright has expired, such as photos taken before 1955.
Can I use images in my lecture or to upload to FLO?
You can copy images for teaching purposes (because the University pays for these uses under an educational statutory licence). You can use these in PowerPoint slides for lectures or in FLO for teaching purposes only, and must attribute the source. For slide presentations, use the university’s PowerPoint template so that the appropriate copyright notice is automatically included. If using images for decorative purposes, please source openly licensed or royalty free images. More information is available in the ‘Using images in teaching’ page of the Copyright for Academic Staff FLO page (which staff can self-enrol in).
I want to use a photograph in a lecture that shows a person's face, do I need their permission?
This is unlikely to be a copyright issue, unless the photo is a selfie, as the copyright owner is usually the person who took the photo not the subject. There is no specific law in Australia that prohibits using a person’s image without their permission although defamation, consumer law and passing off can apply in some instances.
However, it is polite to ask permission before taking someone’s image and good practice to get them to sign a statement indicating that they give you permission for your proposed use.
You will be able to play background music on campus in most situations. The university pays for a music licence that allows live or recorded music to be publicly performed for a university audience, including background music and some events. See more information on how music can be used for university purposes or contact the Copyright Librarian with your music requirements.
Can I play music in a lecture?
Yes, you can play live or recorded music in an in-person or online lecture if it is for educational purposes, and it can be captured in lecture recordings made available to students via FLO.
Can I upload a song to FLO?
Yes, you can upload a song file to FLO if it is for educational purposes, access is limited to FAN users, and the file was legitimately acquired (i.e. not pirated).
Can I use a song in a video?
This will depend on what the purpose of the video is. It is okay to use songs in the background of a video if they are for educational purposes and being uploaded to FLO only; you can also upload the video to Kaltura but will need to manually disable the download function.
For other videos, including event recordings, marketing videos, footage for social media, or student videos being posted online; consult the Music Licence page or contact the Copyright Librarian for guidance.
Can I copy excerpts from a DVD?
Although a DVD can be played in a lecture theatre (with recording turned off), clips from DVDs generally cannot be made. The Copyright Librarian can provide customised support depending on the DVD you wish to use and how much you will be using, please submit a Copyright for Teaching request via Service One and provide details of how you need to use the DVD clips for teaching.
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Can I use a YouTube video for teaching purposes?
YouTube videos can be used for educational purposes via the following means:
In all cases, videos should be uploaded by the creator and you should not be sourcing commercial films or television programs through YouTube. If you add your videos to a Reading List, the library will check the video’s authenticity on your behalf.
Can I play a video on the Plaza SuperScreen?
You can play videos created by the university. Permission will be required to play other videos on any public screen on campus, including the Plaza SuperScreen. For YouTube videos, you will need express written permission from the video’s creator (unless the video description says it has a Creative Commons licence). For commercial movies, you will need to purchase a non-theatrical licence in addition to purchasing a DVD of the film. The two main distributors in Australia which can provide you with the necessary licence are Roadshow and Amalgamated Movies, depending on which company made the movie. There is more information in the SuperScreen Guidelines.
Can I include a movie in a lecture recording?
If you are playing a movie in a class, you will not be able to include this in the lecture recording. Submit the title to your Reading List so the Library can endeavour to source a streaming licence which will allow students to watch the film online from their own device.
Do I need permission to use someone else's image in my forthcoming publication?
You will need to seek permission from the copyright owner if you want to reproduce another person’s figure in your article, even if the image was freely accessible online or provided through an educational publication. Many publishers require you to gain permission for any third party copyright material you have used before they will accept your publication. See Copyright for researchers for more information on seeking permission.
There are some instances where you may not need to ask for permission. These include if the work is published under an open licence, such as Creative Commons, which is often the case with open access journal articles..
How do I obtain copyright permission for a Government work?
The copyright in any material which is created by or under the direction of the Commonwealth, State or Territory is owned by the Crown. Some Government publications are now realised under a Creative Commons licence, which provides and automatic up-front permission. If the material does not have a Creative Commons licence (usually marked on the first few pages on a report) you will need to ask for permission from the agency that created the material.
Can I use a student's work without permission?
Students retain copyright in their work, including in assignments and theses. Where an academic staff member wishes to make use of a student's work in their own teaching (e.g. as a demonstration piece) the staff member needs to seek permission, preferably in writing, from the student to before using their work.
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