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Copyright for staff

Key Points

  • Most materials (books, journals, photographs, paintings, maps, films, scripts) are protected by copyright.
  • ECU has a statutory licence allowing staff to use (copy, perform, reproduce, etc.) some copyright materials provided that they are being used solely for educational purposes.
  • Always acknowledge the creators of copyright material, whilst being aware that doing so does not entitle you to deal with their work as you wish.
  • Staff may contact ECU’s librarians or ECU’s Copyright Officer for more information or advice about copyright. Alternatively, staff may consider online resources such as Australian Copyright Council or ArtsLaw.


Most materials embodying some form of human expression will be protected by copyright. These materials may include books, journals, essays, presentations, photographs, paintings, maps, diagrams, scripts, musical scores, films, sound recordings and computer programs.

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) provides copyright owners (usually creators or publishers) with the right to deal with material in a broad range of ways including reproducing it (in hardcopy or electronic form), modifying it, performing it in public or adapting it (e.g. adapting a novel into a screenplay or translating a book into another language). A person is not permitted to use (by copying, performing, reproducing etc.) another person’s material without the copyright owners’ consent or without a statutory exemption. If they do, then they will have infringed copyright and may be sued by the copyright owner.

Exemption to Infringement - Reproducing or Copying Printable Copyright Material for Educational Purposes

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) contains a statutory exemption which allows ECU staff to copy and communicate limited amounts of copyright material solely for educational purposes without obtaining the consent of the rights holder.  ECU staff cannot rely on this exemption if the work is being modified or the copy/communication is:

  • used for a purpose which is not educational;
  • used for profit, or for commercial, marketing or promotional activities; or
  • given to a third party who is not covered the same statutory licence.

Staff must also not copy in excess of the following limits:



Academic journal or periodical publication
(i.e. newspaper)

One article per edition, or more than one article if each article relates to the same research or course of study

Literary work of no more than 15 pages published in an ‘anthology’ (book of poems, collection of writings)

The whole work if it is less than 15 pages

Literary, dramatic or musical work (excluding computer source code) in hard copy form of 10 pages or more

One chapter, or 10% of the total pages (whichever is greater)

Literary, dramatic or musical work (excluding computer code, electronic musical notation or electronic compilations (including databases)) in electronic form

One chapter, or 10% of the total words (whichever is greater)

Attributing creatorship

As a matter of general academic integrity and compliance with the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) you must always acknowledge the creators of the work which you use.  However, there is a common misconception that so long as the creator and/or copyright owner are property attributed, you can deal with that work as you wish.  This is incorrect.

Having properly attributed such work, staff should be aware that they will infringe the rights of certain creators of copyright material if they distort the work, or otherwise deal with the work, in a manner which is prejudicial to the creator's honour or reputation.

Using Copyright Protected Teaching Materials at ECU

Using Blackboard

All third party text based copyright material to be communicated online must be placed in the E-reserve system. It should not be directly uploaded to Blackboard. We recommend that you speak to an ECU Librarian to manage this process for you.

Using printed materials in the classroom

Many articles or publications may be available from ECU’s library databases. It is better to provide students with links to articles via ECU’s library databases rather than printing or downloading them for yourself.

Always stick to the usage guidelines above. If you do circulate printed materials for your class, you should attach the following notice:

This material has been reproduced and communicated to you by or on behalf of Edith Cowan University in accordance with its rights and obligations under the Copyright Act 1968 (Act), including section 113P.

The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction or communication of this material by you may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act.

Do not remove this notice.

TV or radio broadcasts

In the first instance, staff should consider the broad range of material available to them from ECU’s library databases, rather than making copies of materials using their own devices.  The services which provide access to material under the broadcast licence are:

  • Informit EduTV – an online TV streaming resource containing over 10,000 programs from 2006 to present, including documentaries, drama and series, together with related study guides and articles.
  • Informit TVNews – a television news and current affairs database with more than 360,000 records from 2007 to present.

Audio-visual materials

Staff and students can perform, or can play sound recordings or cinematograph films, in a classroom at ECU, provided that the performance is not open to the public, and is not being recorded for purposes outside of the classroom. A recording or film should not be shown or used if there is any reason to suspect that it is already infringing copyright.


Sheet music, texts and images, can be reproduced as part of a question or answer in an examination.

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