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This section provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions on copyright. If there are any areas that you would like to see covered on this page, contact us.

Books and journals




Websites and online content

Publication and theses

Use of copyright material for Curtin staff and students

Use of copyright material for non-Curtin staff and students


Books and journals

Can I make multiple copies of book chapters or journal articles and distribute these to my students?

Yes. The Statutory Licence agreement with the Copyright Agency allows staff to copy text or graphic material for educational purposes. There are strict limits on how much can be copied: 10% of the words or pages in a book or one chapter (whichever is greater); or one article from a journal or newspaper (or more than one if required for the same research project or course of study).

You can make multiple copies in hardcopy or electronic form and distribute these to students. For copies in electronic form you need to include the electronic warning notice.

The limits for hardcopy or electronic copying should be applied on a ‘per unit, per semester’ basis. In other words, you would need to observe the copying limits when supplying text materials to students doing a particular unit in a particular semester.

However, if you post electronic copies to Blackboard the limits apply across the University – see below.

Can I upload book chapters or journal articles to my Blackboard unit?

When material is made available online the prescribed limit of 10% or one chapter of a book applies to the University as a whole, not just to the individual lecturer or unit. Thus if one chapter of a textbook has already been made available online then that portion would need to be taken down before another extract from the same book could be communicated online.

For this reason, staff communicating materials online must arrange this through the Library Reading Lists service. Library staff ensure the University complies with copying limits, attach required warning notices and check for any additional licensing requirements.


Can I use images (such as graphs, diagrams, photographs) in my teaching materials?

Yes.  Under the Statutory Licence agreement with the Copyright Agency you are allowed to copy and communicate all of an artistic work that is in electronic form.

If the artistic work is in hardcopy form, you can copy all (or part of it) as long as it accompanies or illustrates an extract of text also copied within the statutory licence limits.

However, you may not use artistic works that are:

  • separately published and still available for purchase; or
  • not available to the public (e.g. student work).

In these cases, you would need the copyright owner’s written permission.

Where you are permitted to use the artistic work, you can incorporate all or part of it into a lecture and provide access to Curtin students through Blackboard. If the artistic work will be available in electronic form you need to insert the electronic warning notice which should appear with or immediately before each copyright image. If you are using multiple artistic works, you can insert the warning notice before they are displayed to the students at the start of the presentation or document (for example as slide two after the title or introductory slide in a set of presentation slides).


Am I allowed to record radio or TV programs and make these available to my students?

Yes. Curtin participates in a Statutory Licence agreement with Screenrights that allows staff to copy or communicate recordings of free-to-air radio or television broadcasts for educational purposes. This includes films or documentaries shown on TV, regular TV programs, news and current affairs and podcasts provided by free-to-air stations such as the ABC and SBS.

For free-to-air programs, you can use all or part of the broadcast. You can screen the recording during a lecture or load it into Blackboard. If you communicate the recording online it needs to be accompanied by the electronic warning notice. Current affairs broadcasts are available from Informit TV News.

The Screenrights agreement does not include paid subscription services such as Foxtel or on demand services such as Netflix or Stan.

Can I screen videos in class?

Generally there is no problem with screening a commercial video in a live classroom situation. The screening must be for legitimate educational purposes and must be restricted to Curtin staff or students.

However, copyright issues may arise if the screened material is being captured in an iLecture because technically the material is being copied and then communicated online. For this reason it is advisable to pause the recording while the video is being played, or edit the video out of the recording.

There would be no problem if an iLecture recording captures an online video where the University has permission to use the video, for example the University may have permission to use the video through the terms of a licence agreement. The Library provides access to online commercial videos under licence agreement, for example videos in the Kanopy database.

Can I screen YouTube videos in class?

Generally there is no problem with screening a YouTube video in a live classroom situation. You will need to make sure the YouTube video is a legal version and does not contain infringing copyright material – if you link to an infringing copy on YouTube you are liable for copyright infringement.

The YouTube Terms of Use do not permit you to download or reproduce a video, so there are copyright implications if the YouTube video is captured as part of an iLecture. It is advisable to pause the iLecture recording while the video is played, or edit the video out of the recording before uploading it to Blackboard.

In Blackboard, you can provide students with embed or link to the video on YouTube, so that students may view the video for themselves.

Any material obtained from YouTube should also be properly acknowledged.

Am I allowed to copy extracts of videos for teaching purposes?

Most terms and conditions attached to commercial videos prohibit copying or downloading. Under the ‘fair dealing’ provisions of the Copyright Act it might be permissible to copy short excerpts from a commercial video ‘for the purpose of criticism or review’.

Under the section 200AB ‘flexible use’ provisions of the Copyright Act it might be permissible to:

  • copy short excerpts from one or more commercial videos in order to compile an educational resource that is not otherwise commercially available.
  • convert an outdated resource (e.g. video) into a more useful digital format for teaching purposes.

In order to comply with section 200AB requirements the copying must be done ‘for the purpose of giving educational instruction’ and must fulfil other criteria, i.e. the circumstances must amount to a special case, the use must not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work, and the use must not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the copyright owner. Since the legal position regarding application of the 200AB provisions is somewhat uncertain, staff are advised to contact the Copyright Officer for advice before making copies.


Can I use music in my teaching materials or play music at University events?

Yes.  Curtin participates in a tertiary Music Licence which allows staff to copy or communicate recorded music or sound recordings for educational purposes or for use at official University events. Under this licence, you can play music in class to Curtin students, incorporate music into teaching materials, or play music at an official University function as long as no admission fee is charged. You can also communicate music online via Blackboard for educational purposes, but the access must be password-protected to restrict to Curtin staff and students.

All copies of recordings must be labelled with a prescribed notice and brief information about the work.

Websites and online content

Can I use materials covered by a licence agreement?

Most of the online content provided by the Curtin University Library through databases is covered by a commercial licence agreement. This includes ebooks, ejournals and other documents. Any use of this content would need to comply with the terms of the licence agreement. In most cases there is no problem with using these materials for teaching purposes provided they are only made available to Curtin students. See licensed material on the Library website for more information.

Library staff check licensing requirements before providing online access to this content through Library Reading Lists.

Can I use material obtained from a website in my teaching materials?

Material found on the internet is covered by copyright – it is not ‘copyright free’. Under the Copyright Agency Statutory Licence agreement it is generally okay for Curtin staff to use material (such as text, images, diagrams etc.) from publicly accessible websites for teaching purposes. The usual limits apply in the case of text materials, i.e. 10% of the number of words or one chapter. However, with an internet site it may be difficult to determine how much of the content may be copied.

It is advisable to check the terms and conditions of the website to see what is permitted. Sometimes these terms and conditions may allow more or less than what is permitted under the Copyright Agency agreement.

Some terms and conditions may allow you to make copies, for example documents made available under an ‘open access’ licence such as Creative Commons.

If you do use material obtained from the internet you should acknowledge the source including the URL information.

Make sure you do not link to websites that contain third-party copyright material that is used without permission and infringes copyright, e.g. illegally copied textbooks, movies or music.

Can I provide a link to a webpage or YouTube video?

Yes.  There is no copyright infringement if you simply provide a link to a publicly accessible website. It’s also okay to embed a link to a YouTube video in Blackboard or iLecture. These links must be to legal copies provided by the copyright holder. If you provide a link, acknowledge the source including the URL information.

Is it OK to supply Open Access or Creative Commons materials to my students?

Yes.  It is permitted to communicate these materials in Blackboard or in an iLecture. However you will need to comply with any terms and conditions attached to the Creative Commons licence. Most open access licences require attribution of the source. Other conditions include NC non-commercial use, ND no derivative works (you cannot adapt the content) and SA share alike (you may use the content but you must make it available under a similar Creative Commons licence).

Publication and theses

Do I need to get permission for any copyright material (e.g. text, images, diagrams) that I want to include in my thesis or publication?

There is no need to seek permission if you want to incorporate a number of short quotations into your thesis or publication, but you must acknowledge the sources and provide full reference details.

If you want to include more substantial extracts of text, or images, diagrams, etc. from other sources, then it would be necessary to check the terms and conditions of the website where you found the material, check the terms and conditions of any relevant licence agreement or seek specific permission from the copyright holder.

When you submit your thesis or publication, you will be required to sign a form or agreement confirming that you have the appropriate permissions to include the copyright material.

When seeking permission, do so in writing including details of the material you want to use and for what purpose. For theses, mention that your theses will be made available online in espace and the proposed use is non-commercial. For publications, you will need to mention that the use relates to a commercial publication. If the copyright holder gives you permission, retain the response for your records, comply with any conditions imposed by the copyright holder and indicate in your thesis or publication that you are using the material with permission.

For theses, if you can’t get permission, you can still retain the third-party copyright material in the version submitted for examination but you will have to arrange to have the content suppressed from the electronic copy of the thesis before it is placed in espace. See higher degree theses for more details.

Use of copyright material for Curtin staff and students

How can I use material for examinations or assessment purposes?

Under section 200(1)(b) of the Copyright Act, literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works can be copied as part of a question in an examination, or in an examination answer, without infringing copyright. Physical copies of the exam paper may be made but you cannot give or sell the copies to students, e.g. as an example of past papers.

If you want to include copyright material in an online examination or assessment, or if you intend to make your exam paper available to students as an example of a past exam paper, you will need to do so under the Copyright Agency agreement. This means you will need to abide by the copying limits (e.g. 10% of the words or 1 chapter from a book), restrict access to Curtin staff and students and attach the electronic warning notice for online communication.

What are the copyright implications in providing material for off-shore students?

The general rule is you are governed by the legislation where the activity takes place. Therefore, if you copy material within Australia or communicate it from a server within Australia, Australian copyright law applies. If the copies are made outside Australia, the foreign country’s law applies.

While copyright legislation will differ between countries, many countries are signatories to copyright treaties negotiated at an international level that set minimum conditions for copyright protection and the rights of authors. This means there are common elements to legislation between member countries. For a Curtin University context, it is useful to know that Malaysia and Singapore are both signatories to the Berne Convention. For more details on intellectual property treaties refer to the WIPO website.

The University Statutory Licences apply to Australia only, though registered staff and enrolled students located overseas are permitted to access copyright material centrally loaded onto Blackboard, the Library Reading Lists service or Library Databases through the Bentley campus. If staff at partner institutions outside Australia need to copy and communicate third party copyright material it is essential that they negotiate their own copyright licences separate to arrangements in place at Bentley.

Use of Copyright Material for non-Curtin staff and students

Am I allowed to supply copyright materials when teaching people other than Curtin students?

Under the Copyright Agency Statutory Licence agreement Curtin staff are allowed to copy and communicate text and graphic materials for the University’s ‘educational purposes’, which is usually interpreted to mean in connection with a course of study. There is no specific term in the Copyright Agency agreement which restricts the university to copy or communicate only to staff and students of the university.

While the legal position isn’t entirely clear, there should be no problem with using copyright materials (subject to the usual limits) for professional development workshops or in-house training programs for the benefit of Curtin staff. It would be permissible to use copyright materials for continuing education and professional development activities, even if some of the participants are not current Curtin staff and students. These activities would need to relate to the educational purposes of the University, and not be provided for administrative purposes only.

If course materials are to be made available online under the statutory licences, the University has to make reasonable efforts to ensure that they are only accessed by people entitled to receive them, for example by providing access through a password-protected system such as Blackboard.

You cannot rely on the statutory licences to use copyright materials for courses and workshops aimed at people outside the university sector, especially if the courses are run on a commercial basis. As an alternative, you could use open access material, for example content from an institutional repository or available under a Creative Commons licence. (Remember to check the conditions attached the licence, for example NC means you can only use the material for non-commercial purposes). The Australian Copyright Council provides an information sheet on training materials outside of the educational institution.