Easy ways to manage copyright

There are a number of statutory licences and exceptions that exist under the Australian Copyright Act that allow us to use other people’s material for educational purposes, without having to seek the permission of the copyright owner. However, these licences and exceptions can be tricky to apply and can limit what can be done with the material – not to mention that we pay for uses under the statutory licences.

The digital age does however offer several practical alternatives to relying on the licences and exceptions. These alternatives are easy, and they ensure that copyright is legally and effectively managed.

Linking to Material Online

Linking is not a copyright activity under the Copyright Act. This is because you are not actually ‘copying’ any material when you provide a link, you are simply providing a path to the material’s location on another website. As no material is copied when a link is provided, no copyright implications arise.

It is important however to ensure that the material you are linking to is not pirated. In order to ascertain whether the material is a pirate copy, consider who has made the material available online and the nature of the website it is located on. It is generally not necessary to obtain the permission of the website owner when creating a link to their website. However, it is good practice to include an acknowledgement of the author and source website.

For example, see Kate McCylmont’s article on recent ICAC proceedings in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Linking to Licensed Resources

“New library” by Tony Dwyer ©2012 Macquarie University
“New library” by Tony Dwyer ©2012 Macquarie University

Macquarie University Library licenses hundreds of material and resources for the educational purposes of the University. Providing a link to material that is available in the Library’s catalog rather than making local copies of that material is the best way to facilitate access to that material without having to worry about copyright. This includes all types of material from text (e.g journal articles and newspapers) to video and film content.

For example, the Library licences a number of products that provide access to video content for educational purposes such as Kanopy and Alexander Press. A direct link to that material should be provided when required for teaching purposes rather than sourcing the content from another location and making a copy.


Embedding from YouTube
Embedding from YouTube

Embedding is a type of linking that allows material to be displayed on your online space (website, blog, wiki etc) without the URL being visible to the viewer. This means that the viewer is able to access and view the material as it sits in its original location online without having to leave their online space. It is commonly used for displaying online films, e.g. YouTube videos. Embedding it involves copying the HTML code of the content, which is often displayed beside the content, and pasting it onto your online space (website, blog , wiki etc). The result of this is, rather than displaying a link, it will show the content on your webpage. Some websites, such as YouTube, provide a link for embedding films. This makes embedding material a practical and easy alternative to copying.

Free for Education Material and Open Education Resources (OER)

A copyright owner may decide that they want their material to be freely used for educational purposes. In this case, they will licence the material in a way that allows educational institutions to use the material without having to rely on the statutory licences or exceptions contained in the Copyright Act. It also means that your use of the material is dictated by the terms and conditions of the licence rather than copyright law.

Material that can be used for educational purposes is sometimes referred to as ‘free for education material’. A lot of free for education materials allow teachers and students to modify and share the material for teaching and learning. In this case, the material is categorised as ‘open education resources’ also commonly referred to as ‘OER’.

Creative Commons

“Street Creative Commons” by Giulio Zannol 2009 CC BY 2.0
“Street Creative Commons” by Giulio Zannol 2009 CC BY 2.0

The most common source of free for education material and OER is Creative Commons (CC) licensed material. CC is a set of licenses which are freely available online for creators to access and attach to their work. All CC licences allow material to be used for educational purposes. Depending on the type of CC licence that is attached to a work, a teacher and/or student may also modify or share the material.

Creative Commons Australia and the Schools Sector have developed a number of fact sheets on findng, using and attributing CC material. They are available here.

Creative Commons also provides direct links to a number of places hosting CC material including images, video and audio at http://search.creativecommons.org/

For a list of OER, see https://open4us.org/find-oer/

Copyright Questions?

If you have any questions about managing copyright, including any questions arising from this blog post, please email the Library at copyright@mq.edu.au
For general copyright information, visit the Library’s website.

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