Copyright for teaching at VU: Text

Key points

Copyright law gives the copyright owner of text or a literary work the rights to control:

  • reproduction,
  • publication,
  • communication,
  • performance, and
  • adaptation of their work. 

Under the Copyright Act there are a number of circumstances in which reproduction of a limited or reasonable amount of a literary work is permitted for educational purposes without seeking permission or payment. 

At VU we have a license which allows VU staff members to copy and communicate such material for certain educational purposes. However this does not mean that anything and everything can be copied or put online for educational purposes.

Readings / eReserve

Readings provides students access to online material in units for required and optional readings. Students are provided with a consistent and organised interface for their unit readings. The tool allows teaching staff to store, review, organise and share student readings within VU Collaborate, and comply with copyright requirements. Several guides are provided via the link below regarding adding and organising student readings. 

For information about Readings go to the VU Collaborate 'Adding Library Content' help guides.


Moral rights and text

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

Any text which is adapted should have permission from the author before publishing. This is covered by the Moral Rights law.

Using text for teaching

In this section you will find information about using text for teaching at VU.

What is 'text'?

For copyright purposes "texts" are "literary works" which include works such as:

  • Letters
  • Novels
  • Textbooks
  • Poems
  • Articles
  • Catalogues
  • Song lyrics
  • Instruction manuals
  • Tables or compilations expressed in words, figures or symbols
  • Computer programs or a computer look up table

Teaching resources can be sourced via the Library's subscription databases or with reliance on the Statutory or Education licence. Open Access resources may also be available.

In order to comply with the Statutory licence, Victoria University is required to record all use of third party material not accessed via a licenced database held by the Library. For this reason our Copyright Policy requires all teaching staff to use Readings (eReserve+) to store and record all third party reading materials.

What Copyright notices are in VU Collaborate

Significant amendments to the Copyright Act (1968) came into effect in December 2017, including changes to the Statutory Licence (formerly Parts VA and VB).  The Statutory Licence is now outlined in Section 113P of the Act.

  • New Spaces (from January 2018) will display the new notice referring to s.113P:

This copyright notice means that:

  •  Material has been uploaded in compliance with the Statutory Licence agreement which specifies use of the Notice when relying on the licence.

What you can do

1. On VU Collaborate:

  • You can use texts freely if they are owned by VU, are out of copyright, or you can search for works available under an Open Access or Creative Commons licence.
    • Check with the Copyright Officer if you are unsure if a work is out of copyright.
  • Search for Creative Commons or Open Access sources wherever possible (see Open Education Resources guide for information on this). 
  •  If you do use Creative Commons works, check the licence to make sure you are allowed to use the resource for a particular purpose such as commercial use, making available to be shared, or whether the work can be adapted.  

For information on using database resources go to: Using Library database resources

If you cannot find an Open Access (or Creative commons) work then using text under the Education Statutory licence, or s.113P exception, is allowed with some limitations. 

  • If you wish to change or adapt a copyright protected work you must have permission from the owner.
    • Adaptation is not covered by s.113P

You can upload:

  • In most cases, a “reasonable portion” which is no more than 10% of the entire work or one chapter (whichever is greater). 
  • A whole article in a print issue of a periodical (such as journal, newspaper or magazine).
  • More than one print periodical article if they are on the same subject matter. 
  • A literary work of no more than 15 pages published in an anthology, eg poetry. 

Generally you can also: 

  • Use an insubstantial portion that can be a few lines or sentences from another source, such as a book or a journal, which is acknowledged. A quote from another source can be considered an ‘insubstantial portion’ and will not require permission but will require acknowledgement in the form of a citation or reference. 
  • Copy as much as you need for educational purposes if the work is not commercially available in any format within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price. (There is no definition of reasonable time in the Act so as general rule you can adopt the view that a hard copy work will be available within 30 days).  
    • If in doubt contact the Copyright Officer.

You must record your use on Readings.  This is required under the VU Copyright Policy and Procedures.  For information on the use of Readings go to: Copyright and using eReserve (Readings)


2. For PowerPoints (and other Presentations):
Some points made regarding using text on VU Collaborate (above) also apply to presentations.

If using text on PowerPoint slides you must attribute either on the slides, or on a separate reference section on your unit site.

Many textbook publishers now allow you to use teaching resources, such as PowerPoint slides accompanying their textbooks, after you login to their teacher’s site and agree to the terms and conditions by clicking in the correct box.

  • Please check the publisher’s site to see if this is a function they provide as it means you don’t need to ask for permission separately.
  • If you do use these publisher resources it will be your responsibility to make sure you understand and comply with the stated terms and conditions.


3. From online sources:
If you wish to use text found online on a website, blog or social media site, remember that content on the internet is covered by copyright unless it states otherwise. This content can be used for teaching purposes if limited to the Statutory Licence conditions (see above in VU Collaborate section). Some web content may have an Open Access or Creative Commons licence, see information on Creative Commons at: Creative Commons Licences and check to see what the licence allows.

  • Always check the terms and conditions on the website.
  • If unsure of copyright status contact the Copyright Officer.


4. From textbooks:
Textbooks are usually covered by copyright (unless Open Education resources) so can be used under the Statutory Licence (s.113P) but must be attributed and cannot be adapted or changed without permission.

See previous section “On VU Collaborate” for further information on using textbook material.  If using teacher resources attached to a textbook please check previous section on PowerPoint uses.

Textbooks can be in the form of ebooks and are sourced via the Library’s databases. These resources are covered by the terms and conditions of the publishers’ agreements.

What you can't do


  • Copy or communicate on premises other than the university or to anyone not enrolled as a student or employed as a staff member of VU.
  • Place a pdf downloaded from a licensed Library database or resource on VU Collaborate.  Where possible a link to the source database, eJournal or eBook item can be provided via Readings.

Example - Instruction manual

Manuals  are also covered by copyright.  When copying from manuals always check any copyright statements on the actual work and include the attribution and the source.

'eMac User's Guide':

Here is an example of the manual's copyright statement, (reproduced here under the Statutory Licence s.113P):

This manual is protected by copyright and cannot be downloaded as a PDF for use on VU Collaborate without permission.  It is possible to link.

'Macintosh Instruction Manual - clicking':


'Macintosh User Manual - Clicking' is by Peter Merholz (Photographer) and is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

In this example (above) the CC licence is attributed to the photographer but the copyright owner for the original work would probably be Macintosh as they are also the original creator of the work.  This photo may be breaching copyright. When using this example we are covered by the Statutory licence s.113P. This Notice is included in all VU Collaborate spaces.


Example - Questionnaires

Questionnaires are often protected by copyright so you need to attribute the source or creator next to the work OR link to the file if you cannot copy the pdf. Use or adaptation of a questionnaire will often require permission.


This questionnaire example is freely available from Wikimedia Commons - see attribution at bottom - however the person uploading it to Wikimedia may not have had permission to do so. (When using this example we are covered by the Statutory licence s.113P.) 

Musculoskeletal survey Nordic questionnaire.png by "different" is licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0

This questionnaire was originally published in a study in 1987:

Kuorinka, I, Jonsson, B, Kilbom, A, Vinterberg, H, Biering-Sørensen, F, Andersson, G & Jørgensen, K 1987, 'Standardised Nordic questionnaires for the analysis of musculoskeletal symptoms', Applied Ergonomics, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 233-7.


Contrast the previous example with a genuinely open access questionnaire (below) from Vocational Psychology Research at the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ), which is made available under a CC-BY-NC 4.0 Licence:


Information retrieved from <>.