What does this mean to me?

When working on digital media assignments, you should:

  1. Ensure you understand the rights inherent in any work you use to create a new piece of work.
  2. Correctly attribute and reference what you have used.
  3. Only publicly publish work which has proper use and attribution (ie. NOT when using copyright under Fair Dealing provisions)
  4. Where possible, consider publishing your work with a Creative Commons license.

Copyright in higher education

When creating work for assessment, it is essential that the work is original, created by you and follows all of the required referencing and attributions needed.

Plagiarism is representing some one else's work as your own. This can be in whole or in part. As such, understanding attribution and copyright is an essential component of academic integrity.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a legally defined term in federal LAW of Australia and in most other countries as well. There is no international law for Copyright and you must operate under the jurisdiction that applies.

In simple terms, whenever a digital work is created, copyright is automatically assigned to the creator of the work, including the work you make. This does not require any registration or notice and is not revokable. This ownership last the whole life of the creator and extends 70 years past their death. It applies to all forms of creative work.

Copyright gives the creator FULL CONTROL over how the work is and isn't used. Usually, if you would like to use someone else's work for any reason, you will require permission. Even if you don't see a copyright notice on the work or website, you should assume it is under copyright.

In Australia, there is a Fair Dealing provision in the law that allows you to use copyrighted material for "research or study". However, this DOES NOT allow you to publish the work to a wider audience.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a set of legally defined LICENSES that allow copyright holders a simple way to allow sharing of their work without granting individual permissions. Copyright assumes that the creator of the work does not want to share without their knowledge. Creative commons allows the owner to choose.

There are a variety of sub license types which govern the types of things you can or cannot do with the work.

There are clear guidelines on attribution which you must follow to adhere to the licenses.

What is Public Domain?

Works in the Public Domain are works that have no limiting rights. Works enter the public domain when copyright has expired. Legally in Australia and other countries, it is difficult to remove or transfer copyright ownership so there is now a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license type for this purpose (CC0).

Works in the public domain can be used freely for any purpose and do not legally require attribution. However, in an academic context, attribution is still required to ensure plagiarism is not present.

Some people mistakenly believe that once a work is published or available for free from the Internet, it is in the public domain. This is not true. Publicly available Internet material, such as an online newspaper articles or images on Google or Flickr, are all protected by copyright.

How do I find Creative Commons or public domain resources I can use?

There are a variety of sites on the internet where you can find Creative Commons and Public Domain material. Always explicitly check the license on the actual page you find the work and remember, absence of a copyright notice does not mean it is ok to use.

Some good sites to get started are: