Copyright for Students

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What is Copyright?

How long does Copyright last?

Exceptions for Research and Study

Copying from the Internet

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a law that gives a creator control over their original work. A ‘work’ can be anything in the form of text, images, video, music or even computer programs. Copyright allows a creator to control how their creation is used by others.

Copyright is an automatic right that exists as soon as a work is created. Creators do not need to apply for this right.

In Australia, The Copyright Act (1968) is the official government legislation on all matters related to copyright. The Act includes sections related to the use of copyright for educational purposes. Here at NTI we are bound by the Act, as well as other licenses and agreements we have with various publishers and organisations. As students, you also have a responsibility when it comes to copyright.

Remember: Every work is protected by some level of copyright. The © symbol has become a normalised practice, but a work is still protected even if it does not contain this symbol or any other expressed copyright statement. Even if a work can be found for free on the internet, it is still protected.

How long does Copyright last?

The duration of copyright depends on the form of the work.

Type of Work Duration of Copyright
Literary, dramatic or musical work (for example, books, periodicals, plays, sheet music) 70 years after the author’s death
Unpublished works (for example, letters or personal diaries) 70 years after the author’s death
Artistic works (for example, photographs, art) 70 years after the author’s death
Sound and film 70 years after publication
Television broadcasts 50 years after original broadcast

Out of print works are still protected by copyright, and the limitations discussed below still apply to such works.

Exceptions for Research and Study

The Copyright Act includes an exception for individuals undergoing personal research or study to copy a reasonable portion of a work for their personal use. As a student, this exception applies to you.

What is a ‘copy’?

A copy is a duplication of the original material. A copy can be either physical or digital.

If you photocopy or print a work, you have created a physical copy.

If you scan a physical item, or save an electronic file to your device (for example, a PDF, an image file, a sound file or a video file), you have created a digital copy.

What is a ‘reasonable portion’?

The Copyright Act does not specify exactly how a large a ‘reasonable portion’ is, however the Copyright Agency, which is the organisation responsible for enforcing copyright within Australia, has encouraged all those engaged in personal research and study to use the following guide:

Type of Work Reasonable Amount Example
Hardcopy books 10% of the total number of pages OR 1 chapter (whichever is greater) You may want to make a photocopy from a book with 300 pages. Chapter two is 60 pages, which is 20%, BUT you are still allowed to make a photocopy because it is one chapter, which is consistent with the rules.
Ebook 10% of the total number of words OR 1 chapter (whichever is greater)

You are using an ebook for an assessment and would like to save a portion as a PDF. Some ebooks do not have page numbers, so instead copyright limitations are determined by word count. If you can determine the word count of the full book, you can then calculate how many words you are allowed to copy. Identifying word counts can differ on different ebook readers.

Tip: Our Ebook Central Database has built in tools to determine how much you can copy. See the video: Ebook Central Online Reader and Productivity Tools
Hardcopy journal 1 article per issue OR more than one article per issue if all articles are on the same subject area/for the same subject.

You have found a journal that will be useful for the presentation you must give in ABS904 Buddhist Ethics. One specific volume is particularly relevant, and there are three articles within that issue that focus on the topic of ethics in Buddhism. Since they are all related to the same topic/subject, you are able to photocopy all three articles.

You are also studying MH921 Mindful Nature Connection. There is a fourth article in this issue that would be very relevant for this other subject. However, as this article is not focused on the same area or for the same subject, you cannot also photocopy this fourth article.

Electronic journal Students are permitted to save articles for personal use, but cannot distribute them to others. This is especially important for articles found in NTI’s online databases.

If you have found a useful article in JSTOR and think it would also be helpful to one of your classmates, it is preferable that you share the link to the article. You may save the PDF for yourself, but it is not recommended that you then forward it to your classmates.

Do not share any material from NTI’s online databases with someone who is not studying at NTI. Our licensing agreement with each database instructs that the material is ONLY for those who work or study at NTI. 

Work within an anthology (for example, a collection of essays) The entire work can be copied if it is 15 pages or less, otherwise 10% of the total number of pages (as with a hardcopy book) You have found a collection of essays. The full book is 500 pages. You would like to photocopy an essay that is 45 pages long. You can photocopy the entire essay because it is less than 10% of the total number of pages. If you then change your mind and want to photocopy an essay that is 100 pages, you cannot copy the entire work because it is more than 10% of the total pages. You will instead only be able to photocopy a maximum of 50 pages.
Remember: Copyright will often need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Each time you wish to copy material, you will need to evaluate whether it is considered a reasonable portion.
Watch this video from the University of South Australia, to learn about how students can use copyrighted material.

Copying from the Internet

Material on the internet is still protected by copyright, even if it is available for free. Check a website’s Terms of Use (usually available at the bottom of a web page) for any guidance on how the material may be used. Permission will occasionally be granted to save the material for personal use (for example, study and research), but will prohibit distribution, even among classmates.

If no copyright information is given, you can copy a reasonable portion as with any other material. Either one chapter or 10% of the total pages, or if the work is not paginated then 10% of the total word count.

Tip: If you would like to share resources you have found online, such as a web page or PDF of an online article, share the URL rather than downloading a copy and then sending it to your classmates. This will avoid creating a copy of the material and ensure the source is correctly credited as your classmates will have to visit the source to access the material.
This advice is intended to be of a general nature only. For more information or for guidance related to specific circumstances students may contact the library.

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