Day: November 7, 2016

Considerations When Using Copy Written Materials

Considerations When Using Copy Written Materials

So you have a project due which requires some research but time is against you and the due date is fast approaching. You turn to the almighty power of Google’s search engine for comfort where you innocently copied and pasted materials to build up your project. At the back of your head a little voice is whispering “You are missing something here, something is not right”. And as you continue, the voice becomes louder and louder, forcing you to think what are you doing wrong. Are you unintentionally harming anyone?

A bright light bulb lit, which given you the idea to seek advice from a wise colleague of yours, Paul, who is a subject matter expert in this field. Paul has done extensive research on the topic of copyright and has happily shared the following points with you as guidelines on remaining compliant when projects like this arises and research is required:

  • Create yourself – as much as possible if it is achievable to create the material yourself then it is best to do so, this saves time in researching for contents and getting permission from owners of the material. So, if you require photo of a native tree for your project, then walk around the park and take photos. The sunshine and fresh air is a bonus, it is healthier!
  • Obtain permission to use material from the owner – if you must use someone else’s work, ask the owner nicely and have it in writing with their details (such as having an email confirmation). Good to cover your back side if things go south and they changed their mind later on.
  • Check if the website does say the content can be used or copyright free – look for this indicator that the content on their website is copy right free. I recommend to screen shot this section as a point of reference and store in a secure location.
  • See if you can pay royalty or get a licence to use the material – something that is frowned upon especially if you are a struggling student but if you need to then you must! Better to pay than get sued by the owner. Legal fees and bill on damages can further drain your funds.

In a nutshell, always assume no one is exempt and everything is under copyright. It is highly recommended to read through the Australian Copyright Act of 1968 which outlines the scope of copyright laws in the country which can be found on the Australian Federal Register of Legislation website ( Also, the Australian Copyright Council is there to help for inquiries relating to copyright in Australia. For international copyright, Australia has treaties with some countries where copyright laws are reciprocated but it is best to look for the local copyright laws of that country to ensure you are doing the right thing and abiding by their laws.

Copyright, law at informational technology business analyst’s role

Copyright, law at informational technology business analyst’s role

With the internet changing the way we create, share and access information, the question is, when it comes to copyright, as a consumer, are you breaking the law? As a creative, are you protected?

After a review of copyright in the context of the digital economy the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recommended that Australia introduce ‘fair use’ as a defence to copyright infringement.

Many in the tech and start-up ecosystem find Australia’s current copyright provisions restrictive and inflexible. On the other hand, musicians, film-makers, writers, innovators and other creatives in the digital area have argued strongly for ensuring that IP is protected, perhaps putting the onus on internet services providers to take responsibility for illegal downloads and sharing.

Would a “fair use” provision be an adequate protection for innovators, or is it a vague term which would reduce a creative’s right to decide where and how their content is used?

The issue of copyright is a hot topic, and not a simple one. Beyond the Review: Copyright and the Digital Economy brings together a panel of industry experts who are leading the charge in this field to debate the future of copyright in Australia.

As creative practitioners, our “rights literacy” can often be pretty limited, so we’ve asked some of the key players in the sector to bust some common copyright myths.

  1. If I change more than 10% of the words (or image) am I infringing copyright?

Most probably!  There’s no magic number of words/images/changes you can make to something that will stop it being a breach of copyright.  Copyright doesn’t protect just identical copy, it also protects copying of a part of a work (anything more than an ‘insubstantial’ part) or making an adaptation.  Adaptions such as translation or screen plays that might change all the word in a work would still be a breach of copyright if done without permission.

  1. Is it okay to move my legally purchased content around my own personal devices?

That depends on exactly what you want to move. Because the laws around personal format shifting are technology specific, you can copy a legally-acquired videotape to your tablet, but you can’t do the same for a DVD.  The Australian Copyright Council (ACC) has a useful sheet setting out what you can and can’t legally do titled “Copying and Converting Formats for Private Use”.

  1. With so many regulations, who is monitoring these and does anybody actually get sued for infringement?

There’s been an increase in the ability to monitor copyright infringement, especially with the increasing use of digital content.  Some sites (think YouTube) automatically check uploads for copyright content.  People found to be infringing copyright may be asked to stop using the content, be asked for compensation or may,at the extreme, end up in court.  However, realistically, most of us breach copyright several times a day without even noticing it, and most of these very minor infringements (unauthorised doodles, forwarding emails etc) slip under the radar.  That doesn’t make them legal however.

  1. Can I use pictures found from Google image searches without worrying about getting permission?

Only if they are openly licenced (for example Creative Commons licenced) or public domain (no copyright) images.  You can choose to search certain types of licenced images in the advanced search option, or there are several sites that specialise in only open licenced or public domain images.    If you can’t see any licencing information, then it is wise to assume that it is ‘all rights reserved’.

  1. Do I need to register my copyright in order to protect it?

No, copyright automatically exists as soon as you create the work.  There are some circumstances where the copyright in something you create will not belong to you – for example works you make as an employee doing your job normally belong to the employer.  It is always a good idea to put some indication of how you want your copyright to be observed, so the © symbol for ‘all rights reserved’ or an open licence if you’d like others to share your work.

  1. What are these reforms and how will they impact me?

The ALRC made several recommendations to update copyright. The headline recommendation is a flexible ‘fair use’ exception, which would allow people to make some uses of copyright material without permission if the use was fair.  Examples where uses might be fair would be copying a DVD you own to your tablet to watch while travelling or an artist making a mash-up work from TV advertisements.  For each use though you have to consider what is being done, what sort of work is being used, how much is being used and most importantly whether it has a negative effect on the copyright holder.  Fair use is the system that exists in the USA.  By focusing on whether a use is fair (as opposed to the purpose of a use as the current exceptions do) it can adapt to changes in technology and markets.

The ALRC also made some more technical recommendations about reform of the statutory licences (education, government and disabilities) library and archive use and some government uses, as well as making some suggestions on broadcasts and re transmissions for the government to consider at a later date.  The ADA has a summary of the recommendations on the website.