Copyright for teaching at VU: Definitions


The right to adapt a work is an exclusive right held by the copyright owner of a work.  Adaptation is a complex area in copyright. It could be viewed as any action which changes a work or the purpose of that work, no matter how small that change might be.  The statutory licence does not cover adaptation, so permission may need to be sought. If you have any queries regarding adaptation, or need assistance with permissions, contact the Copyright Officer.


Under the Moral Rights Act, the right to be attributed by name is given to all creators for his or her work to be used; the attribution must be clear and reasonably prominent.

When attributing text or artistic works the following information must be included (where possible):

  • Name of the creator (there may be more than one person involved in the work)
  • Title of the work
  • Source - If the work was originally sourced from another publication or site, give details
  • Licensing or copyright information - source, owner and creator may be different.  Include a link to Creative Commons, or other licence if used.

Further information that is often useful includes the date the work was created and a retrieval URL (if relevant).

You may indicate where information is unknown.  For example 'Photographer unknown' or 'date unknown'.


According to the Copyright Act 1968, 'broadcast means a communication to the public delivered by a broadcasting service within the meaning of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992'. 

The  Broadcasting Services Act defines a ‘broadcasting service’ to mean ‘a service that delivers television programs or radio programs to persons having equipment appropriate for receiving that service, whether the delivery uses the radio frequency spectrum, cable, optical fibre, satellite or any other means or a combination of those means’.

In 2013 the Australian Law Reform Commission clarified that "while free-to-air and subscription cable and satellite television transmissions are covered [by the Broadcasting Services Act], transmissions of television programs using the internet are not".

Collection agency

This term describes the various agencies which collect copyright fees on behalf of the owners. As at 2019 the main collecting agencies (or collecting societies) are as follows:

  • Copyright Agency: for text and images. Members of Copyright Agency generally include authors, journalists, publishers, and visual artists.
  • APRA/AMCOS: According to the Australian Copyright Council, while the two organisations are amalgamated, 'APRA administers the rights of public performance and communication to the public of music and lyrics for composers, music publishers and other copyright owners', and AMCOS 'licenses certain recordings of music and lyrics (such as cover versions of songs which have already been released), and photocopying of sheet music and recording of music by schools on behalf of music publishers'.
  • Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA):  PPCA 'licenses the public performance of sound recordings on behalf of the copyright owner of sound recordings (generally the record companies)' (Australian Copyright Council 2019).
  • OneMusic Australia: Due to the complex nature of obtaining licences/permissions for music and sound recordings, sometimes requiring at least two licences from APRA, AMCOS and PPCA, OneMusic Australia provides a single point of contact to seek all permissions simultaneously.
  • Screenrights: Screenrights administers the statutory licence which allows educational institutions to copy and communicate material broadcast on television and radio.



  • Means to “make available online or electronically transmit”, for example, emailing or streaming.
  • Is one of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner to make the work available to the public.
  • The right of broadcast still remains in the Copyright Act and is considered a form of communication.
  • The Copyright Act states that the person who makes a communication is the person responsible for determining the content of the communication.


According to the Copyright Act 1968, to copy means to reproduce all or a substantial part of a copyright work. The right to copy a work is an exclusive right held by the copyright owner of a work. Copying not covered by an exception or statutory licence will require permission.

Copyright Act

Australian Copyright Act 1968

Creative Commons or CC

Creative Commons is an international non-profit organisation that provides free licences and tools that copyright owners can use to allow others to share, reuse and remix their material, legally. Releasing material under a CC licence makes it clear to users what they can or cannot do with the material. The six standardised CC licences each allow material to be used in a different way.  Go to Creative Commons Australia for further information about CC in the Australian context.

Creative Commons Australia is the affiliate that supports Creative Commons in Australia and administers the Australian Creative Commons licences.

Educational purposes

"The purposes are those of the institution, not of the people using the material.  Under the Copyright Act, "educational purposes" includes making or retaining reproductions "for connection with a particular course of instruction provided by the institution" or "for the collection of a library of the institution"."

(Australian Copyright Council, B144, Educational Institutions: Using Sound & Screen, Nov 2012, p 2)


Embedding a video allows content to be viewed in a frame on the current webpage, rather than linking out.  On VU Collaborate this allows for video content to be viewed seamlessly with learning content and activities.

Generally a video from YouTube, or from one of the approved services such as Kanopy, can be embedded in VU Collaborate.  If an 'embed' option is available for a particular video on a site such as YouTube it gives an 'implied licence' that the material can be embedded. Ensure that no other third party material is in the clip that may infringe copyright.

In some cases the uploader of a video will disable the 'embed' functionality, in this case a link to the video must be used in a VU Collaborate space.

Fair dealing

Under the fair dealing exception (in the Copyright Act) for text you can reproduce for research and study:

  • 10% or one chapter (whichever is greater) of literary, dramatic or musical works.
  • Journal articles – one article per journal issue or two articles from the same issue if the articles are for the same research
  • Fair dealing also covers uses for criticism and review and parody or satire if you are genuinely producing a critique, review, satire or parody of a work.  The use must be ‘fair and reasonable‘. There is no limit to the amount of the work which can be copied but it must be considered ‘fair and reasonable’.

Insubstantial portion

An insubstantial portion can be a few lines or sentences from another source, such as a book or a journal, which is acknowledged; a short film clip or a snippet from a sound recording may also be used without permission if acknowledged.  A referenced quote from another source can be considered an ‘insubstantial portion’ and will not require permission. 

However, a single bar of music not on the APRA/AMCOS list or a small clip from a commercial film could be considered substantial. Sometimes even a short film clip will be considered 'substantial' if it gives away the plot, and will therefore require permission to use.  Whether something is ‘insubstantial’ depends on quality and quantity and the Copyright Act does not define exactly what qualifies as an insubstantial portion. 

Please contact VU's Copyright Officer if you need help in deciding whether a portion is insubstantial.


A link in a Web document is a connection between a Web page and some other document or page on the Internet. They are meant to be references to other sources of information.

As the act of linking to a site does not imply ownership or endorsement, there is no reason permission needs to be asked to link to a site that is publicly accessible. For example, if a site URL is found through a search engine, then linking to it shouldn't have legal ramifications.

Moral rights

These are rights held by the creator and are linked to copyright.  However, unlike copyright, moral rights are not transferrable to another person or body and are:

  • Personal legal rights belonging to the creators of copyright works and cannot be transferred, assigned or sold.
  • Only individual copyright owners can have moral rights (corporations or organisations cannot have moral rights).

Moral rights:

  • Ensure that the creators of works are correctly attributed for their work, and
  • Ensure their works are not treated in a derogatory way, that is the 'integrity' of the work is upheld.

Integrity and Moral rights

In practice, if an image is to be used on a website, blog or social media platform but needs to be cropped or modified in some way that could affect the integrity of the work, it is best to get clearance from the creator.  Similarly any text which is adapted should have permission from the author before publishing. This is covered by the Moral Rights law.

Off-air film or video

Section 113P of the Copyright Act allows educational institutions to copy and communicate anything from broadcast TV or radio, including feature films, news, current affairs, documentaries and commercials.   Recordings can be made from both free to air and pay TV networks, provided the transmission is received in Australia.  These works are called 'off-air' and there are no limits to the amount that can be reproduced or communicated.  As many copies as required for educational purposes can be copied.

This does not apply to online streaming providers such as Netflix or Stan, as they are not defined as 'broadcast services' under the relevant acts.

Open Access

According to the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG 2019, CC-BY 4.0, emphasis added), for 'scholarly work Open Access means making all scholarly outputs freely available via the Internet, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any lawful purpose, without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.'  The AOASG goes on to say that Open Access is more than just free access.

From the sphere of Open Educational Resources (OERs) come the 5Rs of Openness:

Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways
Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself
Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new 
Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others


According to the Australian Copyright Council (2015, p. 22) the 'performance right is the right to perform copyright material in public'. It is an exclusive right reserved by the copyright owner. Performance is not covered by the statutory licence, so permission may need to be sought. It is a requirement for copyright protection that a work is in material form. Performance art may not be protected by copyright unless it is fixed in a material form. 

'“Performance” is defined in the Copyright Act to include any mode of visual or aural presentation, and includes the following:

  • Using equipment that allows people to see or hear the copyright material that is communicated to it
  • exhibiting a film
  • playing a disc, tape, paper, electronic file, or other device in which sounds are embodied; and
  • the delivery of a lecture, speech or sermon' (Australian Copyright Council 2015, p. 22).

Clearly, a musical concert or the presentation of a play would constitute a performance, however it should also be noted that a teacher's presentation of a class is also considered a performance.

Copyright Essentials (2015).




Permalinks, or Permanent Links, provide a reliable hyperlink to content in Library databases. They are also referred to as 'deep links' or 'stable links'.

When linking to material in databases, for example journal articles and e-books, it is critical to use permalinks to ensure stable access to this content both on and off campus.  Please refer to the Library's Permanent Links from Library Resources guide for specific instructions relating to a number of major databases, e-book, and streaming video providers.

Public domain

Material is considered to be in the public domain if copyright in the work has expired, or it is made available under a free licence such as Creative Commons, or it is Open Access.  Duration of copyright is quite complex; refer any queries to VU's Copyright Officer if you are unsure whether an item remains in copyright or not.


According to Smartcopying (n.d., CC-BY 4.0) the definition of 'publish' depends in part on the type of work; 'Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works and sound recordings are published when they are made available to the public by sale or otherwise.  A film is published when copies of the film are sold, let on hire, or offered or exposed for sale or hire, to the public.'  

In short, to 'publish' is to make public.

The right to publish a work is an exclusive right held by the copyright owner of a work. The statutory licence does not cover publishing, so permission may need to be sought.


This is VU's central repository for adding, storing and recording any third party material on VU Collaborate, particularly any hard copy text or images required for teaching purposes.  For information about Readings go to the VU Collaborate 'Adding Library Content' help guides.


Reasonable portion

Refers to the amounts that can be copied under the "fair dealing" exception described above.

Safe harbours

'A Safe Harbour is a protection given to a service provider that shields them from liability because of the infringing actions of their users, provided the service provider complies with the obligations in the Safe Harbour scheme' (Smartcopying 2018, CC-BY 4.0).

The Safe Harbour scheme initially applied to Internet Service Providers to protect them from the infringing actions of their users.  It has now been extended to educational institutions and libraries (among others), and protects the institution from the infringing actions of staff and students using their systems.  The 'obligations' referred to in the scheme include ensuring prompt action is taken if a rights holder issues a take-down request, and also that measures are in place to deal with repeat offenders. 

Statutory licence

There is a statutory license which allows VU staff members to copy and communicate some material for certain educational purposes. However this does not mean that anything and everything can be copied or put online for educational purposes.  Section 113P of the Copyright Act allows certain copying for education purposes.


Section 113P of the Copyright Act 1968 outlines how educational institutions may copy and communicate certain works and broadcast materials for the educational purposes of the institution, so long as they agree to pay 'equitable remuneration' to the appropriate collecting societies.  This is also referred to as the Statutory Licence, (see above).

Subject matter

The Copyright Act protects eight categories of material, which can broadly be divided into 'works' and 'subject matter'. 

According to the Australian Copyright Council (2015, p. 11), subject matter (or, more accurately, 'subject matter other than works') includes:

  • 'the visual images and sounds in a film (“cinematograph films”), protected separately from copyright in underlying works such as a screenplay or music
  • sounds recorded on MP3, CD and vinyl (“sound recordings”), protected separately from copyright in the music or other works recorded
  • broadcasts of television and radio programs, protected separately from copyright in films, music and other material which is transmitted
  • “published editions” (the typography and typesetting of the whole of a published text), protected separately from copyright in any works that may be included in the published edition.'

From: Copyright Essentials

Third party

'Third party' material is any material created by someone other than the University that you may wish to use in teaching.  It is likely to be copyright material, but may also be in the public domain or made available under a Creative Commons (or similar) licence.

When including work created by another person or organisation in teaching practice, permission will need to be sought unless:

  • The work is covered by the Statutory Licence, or other relevant exception in the Act.
  • Is under an individual licence to VU
  • Is out of copyright, or
  • Comes with a Creative Commons or similar open licence.

Works may be covered by more than one copyright. For example, a video clip might contain the work of more than one creator. Always check that you have permission from all copyright holders when using the material in a VU Collaborate space.

All use of third party material must be appropriately attributed. Refer to the following information sheet from Smartcopying for information about Labelling third party material.

User-generated content

"UGC (User-Generated Content) is a broad term that can cover a variety of material. Examples of UGC include:

  • Posts and comments on a Facebook page; 
  • Images and videos uploaded to image/photo/film-sharing sites such as YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, Pinterest and Flickr;
  • Responses in the comment section of a website or blog (eg., restaurant reviews, comments on a news article or photograph); and
  • Contributions to crowdsourced projects (eg., Wikipedia entries)".

(Australian Copyright Council,Information Sheet G108v05, Websites & User- Generated ContentJan 2017).

Not only can User-Generated Content be protected by copyright (potentially requiring permission to use, if not covered by an exception or statutory licence), but there can also be privacy issues with this content.  If you have any concerns about using UGC material then contact your College Librarian or the Copyright Officer at



The Copyright Act protects eight categories of material, which can broadly be divided into 'works' and 'subject matter'. 

According to the Australian Copyright Council (2015, p. 10), works include:

  • Literary Works
    • 'text, such as e-books, blog posts, song lyrics, poems and other written works such as journals, articles, reports, diaries, letters and emails
    • compilations, including tables of information, databases, catalogues and registers
    • computer programs'
  • Dramatic Works
    • 'screenplays, choreography and scripts'
  • Musical Works
    • 'music and musical compositions'
  • Artistic Works
    • 'paintings, drawings, sculptures, cartoons, photographs, logos, charts, diagrams, plans and maps
    • works of artistic craftsmanship such as pottery, tapestry, textiles, basketwork, jewellery, medals and costumes
    • buildings, models of buildings and architectural plans'

From: Copyright Essentials