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What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects the original expression of ideas. It enables creators to manage how their content is used. 


Limits what you can legally reproduce while an item is in copyright. Reproduce includes copying, scanning, downloading, or saving. 

Copyright in Australia

In Australia, copyright protection is automatic. There is no registration system for copyright under Australian law. Certain forms of expression, such as text, images and music, are automatically covered by copyright under the Copyright Act.


Copyright for students

Students have special copyright exemptions within the Copyright Act of 1968. This allows you to use copyright material under certain circumstances without requesting permission from the copyright owner.

For research and study you can reproduce:

  • One chapter of a book, or 10% of the pages (10% of the words if the work is in electronic form)
  • One article from a journal or newspaper (more if the articles are for the same assignment)
  • All of an artistic work, for example: diagram or photo (when not available for separate purchase)

You can read more about Fair Dealing in this factsheet from the Australian Copyright Council

Read more

What does Creative Commons mean?

You might see some items with a Creative Commons (or CC) license. 

Creative Commons License

This is a way the creator has indicated you have certain permissions to share or use their work.

There are different types of CC licenses

The license conditions vary depending on whether or not the creator is happy to have others modify their work or use it for commercial purposes.

In all cases you should acknowledge the creator through an attribution, such as in your reference list in an assessment, or the creator's name and a link back to the source if using an image on a blog post.

Read more about the different licenses in the fact sheet Creative Commons Licences Explained.

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Try searching the library website in the top right-hand corner.

Copyright for Lecturers