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Copyright Guidelines

UniSA copyright guidelines


In Australia, the rights of creators and users of copyright material are enshrined in the Copyright Act and apply to any work made or created in Australia. The University takes its copyright obligations seriously, and staff and students who breach copyright may face disciplinary action. Generally, copyright is infringed if a work—or a substantial part of a work—is used without permission in one of the ways exclusively reserved for the copyright owner. Ownership of copyright by staff and students is described in the University's Intellectual Property: Ownership and Management Policy. Section 4 (Ownership of Intellectual Property) describes in more detail how the Policy applies to teaching materials, funded research, scholarly works, student theses and assessment materials.

For a work to be protected by copyright, it must be in a material form and have a human author. Copyright protects the expression of the idea, not the idea itself. It protects published and unpublished material, including material available in electronic form.

The Copyright Act provides copyright protection to the following materials:

  • Literary works, e.g. books, articles, poems, short stories, reports, computer code, song lyrics
  • Artistic works, e.g. paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphs, tables
  • Musical works, e.g. sheet music, tablature
  • Dramatic works, e.g. plays, film scripts, dance choreography
  • Films, e.g. online videos, movies, documentaries, television shows
  • Sound recordings, e.g. songs, audio books, recorded interviews
  • Broadcasts, e.g. television and radio broadcasts
  • Published editions, e.g. typographical layout of published works

The creator of a work is generally the owner of that work until or unless they assign their copyright to someone else.

There are some situations where the creator of the work is not the 'first' owner of the work:

  • Employees (copyright is generally owned by the employer)
  • Commissioned works (copyright ownership will be governed by a commissioning agreement)
  • Government (the Government claims copyright ownership in works created by its employees)
  • Contract/Licence (copyright ownership will be set out in the agreement)

Copyright can be sold to or divided between different parties. An author can also assign copyright (i.e. sell completely or licence partial use) by territory, media, and time.

For works that are still in copyright, copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years. Please refer to the Australian Government's Duration of copyright guide for specific provisions.

Under the Australian Copyright Act, copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights, including:

  • Reproduction (e.g. photocopying, scanning, downloading)
  • Publishing (distributing copies for sale)
  • Performing or playing the work in public
  • Communicating to the public (e.g. making available online, sending by email, delivering a conference paper)
  • Making an adaptation or translation of the work
  • The right to do any of the above acts in relation to an adaptation of the work

These rights are commercial rights and give the copyright owner a monopoly to control how their work can be used.

Moral Rights

Under Part IX of the Australian Copyright Act, creators also have Moral Rights. These rights cannot be assigned or licensed, and last for the same period of time as copyright protection.

Moral Rights refer to the rights of an author or artist:

Under Moral Rights law, you must provide sufficient acknowledgement of the work copied, identifying the creator/author and the work from which the copy is taken (by its title and other descriptive information).

Attribution and copyright infringement are two different things. You can properly attribute a work and still infringe copyright.

Defences to infringement: Fair Dealing

The Fair Dealing provisions in the Copyright Act are purpose-based exceptions, which allow individuals to copy a reasonable portion from a copyright work for a limited number of specified purposes, without the need to obtain prior written permission from the copyright owner. Works copied under the Fair Dealing provisions must only be used for the purpose for which they have been copied.

If a Fair Dealing exception does not apply to the amount you wish to copy or to the way you wish to use it, permission must be obtained from the copyright owner to use copyright material in any of the ways which are in the copyright owner's exclusive control.

Fair dealing for purposes of research or study (sections 40 and 103C)

To rely on the Fair Dealing exception for Research or Study, the material must be copied for your own study or research, the use must be fair, and the original material must be attributed.

The Fair Dealing exception for research or study cannot be relied upon by teaching staff to make copies on behalf of students or to make material available online, or by students making multiple copies of material for distribution.

This exception may also not be relied upon to include copyright material in material that will be published.

Copying limits (print and electronic)

Literary, dramatic or musical (e.g. books, plays, scripts, conference papers, notated music)
  • For works published in print form, 10% of the number of pages, or one chapter if the work is divided into chapters. Applies only to works of more than 10 pages.
  • For works published in electronic form, 10% of the number of words, or one chapter if the work is divided into chapters. Applies only to works of more than 10 pages.
  • You may be able to copy up to the whole of the work if the work is out of print or is unavailable for purchase within a reasonable time. Please contact Ask The Library if you need to copy more than the given portions.
Articles from periodicals, journals, newspapers or magazines
  • For articles contained in a periodical publication, one article from each issue.
  • Two or more articles from the same issue may be copied if they are for the same research or course of study.

Guidelines for assessing whether your use is fair

The Copyright Act does not define what constitutes Fair Dealing for:

  • artistic works (e.g. photographs, graphs, drawings, maps, cartoons)
  • audio-visual materials
  • anything which is not printed (e.g. computer programs, sound recordings)
  • unpublished material (e.g. manuscripts)
  • text or musical scores published in editions of less than 10 pages

Before using or copying these materials, you will need to assess whether the purpose of your copying is fair, and whether the amount you wish to use is reasonable (even if the amount you wish to use is only small (e.g. a stanza from a poem or a clip from a film or video).

The Five Factors of Fairness:

  1. The purpose and character of the dealing. For example, copying in connection with a course of study is more likely to be fair than copying for research which may be used commercially.
  2. The nature of the work. For example, it may be less fair to copy a work that has significant commercial value or which required a high degree of skill to create than a work with little or no commercial value or which required little skill to create.
  3. The possibility of obtaining the work within a reasonable amount of time at an ordinary commercial price. For example, it may be fair to copy the whole of a work which is out of print or not available in a reasonable time, but unfair to copy the whole or part of a work which is available commercially.
  4. The effect of the dealing on the potential market for—or value of—the work. For example, making multiple copies of a work is less likely to be fair than making a single copy.
  5. The amount and substantiality of the part copied in relation to the whole work. For example, it may be less fair to copy a large or important part of the work than to copy a small or unimportant part.

For more information, please refer to the Australian Copyright Council's Research or Study information sheet.

Fair dealing for purposes of criticism or review (sections 41 and 103A)

To rely on the Fair Dealing exception for Criticism or Review, the purpose of the copying must be genuine criticism or review. It is not sufficient that you copy a work merely to illustrate or explain your own work. The Australian Copyright Council's Quotes and Extracts information sheet provides guidance around the scope of this exception.

Fair dealing for purposes of parody or satire (sections 41A and 103AA)

The terms parody and satire are not defined in the Copyright Act. Please refer to the Australian Copyright Council's Parody, Satire and Comedy information sheet to assist in determining whether your intended use may be considered to be parody or satire. If, after consulting this information sheet, you are still unsure, please contact Ask the Library.


The Copyright Act requires the University to display notices on individual works copied or communicated for the educational purposes of the University. The University is also required to display prescribed warning notices on University equipment used to make print copies or to create electronic reproductions. These notices provide some protection against the University being found liable for authorising copyright infringements by students or staff.

Equipment Notices

Under s.39 and s.104 of the Copyright Act, the University is required to display Warning Notices on University equipment which is used to make print copies or to create electronic reproductions.

Where equipment is unsupervised or does not display the required Notices warning users of the implications of their copying practices, the University can be found liable for authorising copyright infringement.

Under s.39A of the Copyright Act, all University faculties, departments and libraries must affix this Notice near or on all University equipment which can be used to copy or communicate copyright material, including machines with the capacity to create electronic reproductions.

Under Section 104B of the Copyright Act, all University of South Australia Academic Units, Administrative Units, and Libraries must affix this Notice near or on all University equipment which can be used to copy audio-visual material. This includes audio equipment, scanners, computers and any other equipment on which infringing copies of audio-visual material can be made.

University equipment which can copy both print and audio-visual material, such as a PC which can be used to download text, film, images and recorded music, must have both the s.39A Notice and the s.104B Notice displayed together. This combined notice can be used can be used instead of displaying the two separately.

Copyright Notice for presentations

The following Copyright Notice should be displayed if you are reproducing or communicating any text, images, or notated music in electronic form. Click on the Notice to download a .docx copy.

Copyright Notice 113P