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Copyright for Students

Student copyright ownership information
What is copyright?
Fair Dealing
Moral Rights

I wish to make a copy/communicate material (works) to another student or colleague
I wish to make a copy for my research
I wish to use an image in my assignment/presentation/thesis etc
Can I play movies or TV shows in class?
Can I play copied TV and radio programs in class?
I want to use a clip from YouTube. Can I do this? How do I tell if the material I want to use has been uploaded by the copyright holder?
Where can I find Open Access material?

What about Out of Print Works?

I am a student with a disability

Examples of infringement
Other useful links

Student copyright ownership information

As a student of USQ you hold copyright over material you produce within the course of your study (either coursework or research) – i.e. assignments, essays, exam answers, theses etc. However, if you collaborate and co-author material with another student or staff member the work produced is owned by both authors. Permission to use such material must be obtained from both authors, unless the authorship of the work was separated (i.e. you wrote one chapter and the other author wrote another).

What is Copyright?

For more information on the fundamentals of Australian Copyright law see the Copyright Basics page for more information.

Fair Dealing

  • There is a section of the Copyright Act which allows a ‘reasonable portion’ of an item to be copied for research or study. 
  • A ‘reasonable portion’ is defined in the following table –


Work or adaptation   Amount that is reasonable portion

A literary, dramatic or musical work (except a computer program), or an adaptation of such a work,
that is contained in a published edition of at least 10 pages.


(a) 10% of the number of pages in the edition; or
(b) if the work or adaptation is divided into chapters--a single chapter
A published literary work in electronic form (except a computer program or an electronic compilation, such as a database), a published dramatic work in electronic form or an adaptation published in electronic form of such a literary or dramatic work.
 (a) 10% of the number of words in the work or adaptation; or
(b) if the work or adaptation is divided into chapters--a single chapter

Moral rights

The Copyright Act defines moral rights that are ascribed to the creator, regardless of whether or not they own the copyright of a work, as:

  • a right of attribution of authorship; or
  • a right not to have authorship falsely attributed; or
  • a right of integrity of authorship.

It is important to be aware of and to maintain these moral rights when using work that is copyrighted in your assignments. For more information see USQ’s policy on Plagiarism and the Library Referencing Guide.


I wish to make a copy/communicate material (works) to another student or colleague

You may make a copy of print material to send to another individual or staff member (i.e. as an attachment to an email) under the fair dealing for the purpose of research or study.

Fair dealing, however, is not applicable if:

  • You make multiple copies and you distribute the material to multiple people
  • You sell your copy/copies
  • You copy commercial films, DVDs, CDs, music, software etc. There is currently no guidance within the Act which stipulates the amount which would be considered “fair”; the copying of such material is considered high risk, considering that these items are commercially available and financially affordable.
  • Only limited online use of material is considered “fair” under the fair dealing provision – i.e. sending an attachment in an email is permissible; making the material available on a website is not.

I wish to make a copy for my research

See the Fair Dealing section above for details of the limits allowed on the copying of material for the purpose of research or study. Generally, you are allowed to copy 10% of the total pages or one chapter of the work. For more detailed information on copyright for a specific item type, see the Copyright Matrix for Students and Researchers.

I wish to use an image in my assignment/presentation/thesis etc

In Australia copyright is free and automatic and does not depend on the item being published or the presence of a copyright notice. This includes images, which may or may not include the © symbol. If you wish to use an image you must seek permission from the copyright owner. For more information on how to seek permission see Copyright Permissions.

An alternative to seeking permission for use of a copyrighted image is to search for a similar image which is licensed under an Open Access licence such as Creative Commons. Creative Commons licensed material offers diversity in how and how much material you can use in your own work, without gaining specific permission from the copyright owner to do so. For more information see “Where can I find Open Access Material” section below or the Open Access page.

How can I find out who owns the copyright for the item I require?

The copyright statement will often look like this: © John Smith 2009. In many cases Publishers are the copyright owners and contacting the publisher (especially if your item is a book or published work) is a good first step. If the Publisher does not own copyright, in many cases, they may be able to give you the contact details required or forward the request to the copyright owner.

Alternatively, you may try searching for your item in Trove. Items in Trove have a “Check copyright status” button under the “Edition Details” section of the entry. This is a very useful tool in establishing the copyright status of your item and will give you an idea as to whether you need to seek permission if you are using it in a way which is outside the exceptions indicated in the Copyright Act.

For websites – check the contacts page for suitable contacts. They may not be the copyright owner but they may have the author’s contact details.

Some useful links to help identify the publisher/author:

I want to use a clip from YouTube. Can I do this? How do I tell if the material I want to use has been uploaded by the copyright holder?

You may use clips uploaded on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. However, you must be sure that the material was originally uploaded by the copyright owner. You must also be aware of the licence types as this will determine how you may use the item. If you are certain that the item was uploaded by the copyright owner than it is best practice to simply link to the video, rather than embed or download.

Determining the copyright owner can sometimes be difficult to ascertain, especially with media items. If the item has been uploaded by a reputable organisation or person, then usually they are the copyright owners. For example, a clip on the BBCWorldwide channel on YouTube is copyrighted by the BBC and safe to link to; however, material uploaded by, for example, Fan of BBC, is not. If in doubt, you should contact the person who uploaded the item in question.

Can I play movies or TV shows in class?

You may screen films, DVDs or videos in class without obtaining additional permission in certain circumstances. Additional permission is not required if:

  • it is within the scope of your educational instruction
  • and all members of the audience are present for reasons of either “giving or receiving instruction” and directly associated with USQ (i.e. student or staff member).
This exemption is not appropriate if:
  • the film is shown for entertainment purposes
  • USQ will receive a profit as a result of the screening
  • there are additional members of the audience who are not “giving or receiving instruction or who are not directly connected with the place where the instruction is taking place.” (Films, DVDs & Videos: Screening in Class, pp.2)

You must be aware that you must only screen a legally obtained copy of the DVD, film or TV show. Pirated copies are not covered by the Act and should not be used under any circumstance.

If you wish to screen a film at a public event (for both not-for-profit or for-profit) you must obtain a licence to do so. For more information contact the Copyright Advisory Service.

Can I play copied TV and radio programs in class?

You may copy off-air TV and radio programs, which you are then allowed to screen in class (see above for details). If you wish to copy this material to disseminate (either in one of the password protected repositories or on a CD or DVD for class members) you must affix the Part VA Copyright Warning notice (see section on Audio Visual Material).

Where can I find Open Access Material?

Open Access and Creative Commons material offers you diversity in how and how much material you can use in your work. It is important to remember that you must always reference third party material in the manner most appropriate to your area of study, whether it is considered Open Access (e.g. Creative Commons licenced) or not. See the USQ Library’s Referencing Guide for more information on how to reference appropriately.

Some useful Open Access and Creative Commons resources are listed below:

The search function of Creative Commons Australia is a useful search engine for other material such as images, clip art, media, music and video which has been licensed under Creative Commons.

What about Out of Print Works?

An Out of Print work does not automatically mean the copyright has expired. There are a number of options for the copying and communication of Out of Print works:

  • You may still copy a reasonable portion of the material, as you would with material still in print (i.e. 10% of total pages or one chapter)
  • You may contact the copyright holder to obtain specific permission to copy larger portions of the material

I am a student with a disability

The Copyright Act makes a number of provisions to ensure access to appropriate formats for people with a disability. The provision allows USQ to copy and communicate works for people with a print disability. As defined within the Act, a print disability is:

  • a person without sight
  • a person whose sight is severely impaired
  • a person unable to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move his or her eyes; or
  • a person with a perceptual disability

Support for students with disabilities is available within the USQ Library.

For more information on Assistive Technology contact the Student Services Disability Support service.

Examples of infringement:

  • Uploading copyrighted material (e.g. audio files, images, text, videos, software, commercial photographs, PowerPoint presentations) to a public access website (e.g. YouTube) without the permission of the owner/s.
  • Failure to correctly reference copyrighted material.
  • The provision of links to others which link to copyright infringing material (e.g. videos, software, unauthorised audio recordings, or pirated scans of material otherwise available for purchase, and/or material which has not been uploaded by the copyright owner).
  • The photocopying of textbooks (either more than the 10% limit allowed under the Copyright Act) or with the express intention of selling the photocopied material for financial gain.
  • Disseminating copyrighted material (to multiple parties?) (e.g. through email) without the express permission of the owner to do so. While you may have obtained the material legally, you may have done so under a licence which prevents users from further transmission (common in, for example, the “Terms and Conditions” of journal subscriptions). Always read the Terms of Use carefully before sharing copyrighted material with others. Sharing a link to the material is always the safest option.


  • Students must reference sources in the work they produced using the referencing style preferred in their program of study.
  • Referencing is a standardised method of formatting the information sources used in assignments or written work. Referencing acknowledges the source and allows the reader to trace the source. Go to the USQ Library Referencing Guide for more information.
  • EndNote, a bibliographic management tool, can assist with the creation and management of bibliographies.
  • Turnitin is plagiarism identification software which enables students to check their work for improper citation or potential plagiarism. The software compares submitted documents via a continuously updated global (Turnitin) database and references indexed pages on the world wide web, other universities and schools.

Other useful links:


Monash University (2012) Copyright Information for Monash Students, Monash University, viewed 3 December 2013 <>
The Australian National University (2013) Copyright Information from the ANU Library, The Australian National University, viewed 3 December 2013 <>
The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)(Austl).
Australian Copyright Council (2012) Films, DVDs & Videos: Screening in Class [Fact sheet] Retrieved from < >
Australian Copyright Council (2012) Research or Study [Fact sheet] Retrieved from <>
Australian Copyright Council (2012) Photographers & Copyright [Fact sheet] Retrieved from <>