Using and copying work

Make sure you have permission to use other people’s work

If you want to publish your work or otherwise make your work publicly available, you must ensure you have permission.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the copyright owners where:

  • A whole work is copied – a photograph, short story, poem, diagram, chart, graphic or image is considered to be a whole work and is not just a part of the publication in which it appears
  • A substantial part of a work is copied – a copy of a part of a work is considered substantial if it represents the essence or an important or significant part of that work, however a short quote for academic purposes is unlikely to be considered substantial.
  • You have collaborated with another person to create a copyright work which is jointly owned
  • Where you have permission to use a work for one purpose for example, a performance and you now wish to include a recording of that work in your thesis, i.e. the permission does not cover the use of the work for another purpose.

Works posted on the internet

Works posted on the internet are protected by copyright. You will need permission to copy them, unless the author has clearly stated that the work may be copied and posted on the internet or otherwise published.  In certain circumstances it may be possible to copy a work without permission,  see below. For information on copying images from the internet, see Copying images from the Internet.

Take care with material provided to you by your lecturers

If you are a student you may be provided with course materials, such as a chapter from a book or a journal article. These are copied under special copyright licences paid for by the University. You can print a copy for yourself if the material is in electronic form, but you cannot make extra copies or share with others other than in certain circumstances.

This means you cannot post these materials on social media sites such as Facebook even if it is for study purposes. Lecturers own copyright in their lectures. You must not record those lectures without permission and you must not share those recordings without permission or post them on the internet.

Assignments or examinations

You may make a single copy of someone else’s work and include that work in your assignment but you must:

  • fully attribute the other person’s work in accordance with the requirements of your discipline
  • not publish or communicate your assignment outside the University for any purposes other than assessment or examination.

When can I copy a work without obtaining permission from the copyright owner?

You may only copy a work without permission if:

  • Copyright has expired (see 'How long does copyright last')
  • The author has made the work available under a licence which permits you to post the work on the internet such as a Creative Commons licence.
  • The copying is fair i.e your use clearly falls under one of the fair dealing exceptions in the Act such as fair dealing for the purpose of criticism and review
  • Works are not protected by copyright
  • Copying is permitted under the Act.

Copying is fair

Sometimes copying is allowed under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act. A use will be fair if it provides society with a benefit without unfairly prejudicing the rights of a copyright owner. The fair dealing provisions include copying for

  • Private study and research
  • Criticism and review.

Private study and research

You can make a single copy of a work or part of a work for your own private study and research. There is no set amount which can be copied. However, if you are copying so much of a work that you should have bought a copy then that won’t be considered fair (unless the work is out of print and you cannot obtain a copy within a reasonable time period and for a reasonable price). Making a copy of a single journal article and a chapter from a book would likely be considered fair if you were doing the copying for academic purposes.

Criticism and Review

There is no clear formula for the amount which can be copied under this provision. This will depend on the particular circumstances of the use and the nature of the work. The courts have held that the following factors will determine whether or not a use is fair:

  • The number and extent of quotations and extracts from the work copied – too many quotes, and quotes which are too long, are unlikely to be considered fair.
  • Whether the proportion of the work quoted or the number of images copied is more than is necessary to criticize or review the work; long extracts and short comments will not be considered fair.
  • The degree to which the use competes with the work copied, so, for example, if the use would reduce demand for and affect sales of the work copied.
  • In some instances whole works may be copied – for example if a work of art or a short poem was being criticized or reviewed.
  • A court would be less likely to consider that copying for criticism or review is “fair” if a work is unpublished and not in the public domain or widely distributed.
  • The copying must be for criticism, but need not be of the work criticised or reviewed.  It may be permissible to copy a work for the purpose of illustrating certain points in relation to the work being criticised.
  • Criticism may extend to the ideas underlying the work.

Any works copied under this provision of the Act must be accompanied by sufficient acknowledgment. This means the work must be identified by its title or other description and by its author (unless the work has been published anonymously or it is not possible by reasonable inquiry to ascertain who the author is).

Works not protected by Copyright

No copyright exists in any of the following New Zealand Crown works which may be copied freely:

  • Bills and Acts of Parliament
  • Regulations and bylaws
  • Reports of Select Committees
  • New Zealand Parliamentary Debates
  • Judgments of any New Zealand court or tribunal. Note: Head notes are protected by copyright and may not be copied without permission
  • Reports of New Zealand Royal commissions, commissions of inquiry, ministerial inquiries or statutory inquiries.

Note: This does not extend to legislation, judgments or reports from outside New Zealand.

Copying permitted

Under the Copyright Act the following works may be copied without infringing copyright:

  • Abstracts of scientific or technical articles
  • Buildings and sculptures permanently on public display may be drawn, photographed or filmed but you cannot copy another person’s drawing, photograph or film of those works
  • Descriptions and photographs of medicines imported by Pharmac, DHB or other NZ government agency.

How do I obtain permission to use a work?