Copyright for Studying

Two students sitting in front of an open laptop

As a student you will use and create copyright-protected materials in the course of your studies. It is important to be familiar with and observe copyright to comply with legal requirements, University policies, and integrity principles, as well as to develop life-long best practices throughout your career.

If you are a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student or you are considering publishing your research outputs, see the Copyright - Research & Publishing page. 

  • Best practices

    There are several recommended practices to avoid copyright infringement while studying and preparing assessments:

    Tip Example
    Use reputable resources

    Library Search and Google Scholar search results exclude pirated resources. Avoid websites that require uploading of material to access other material. Some materials may have to be purchased. 

    Link or embed instead of copying Linking or embedding material does not infringe copyright and does not rely on licences or fair dealing exceptions. 
    Use Open Educational Resources (OERs)

    OERs generally have a Creative Commons or similar open licence that permits certain uses without requiring permission or relying on an exception. See the OER How Do I guide for information on how to find OERs. 

    Observe download limits

    Some library databases don’t permit downloading of texts or they limit printing or downloading to a certain number of pages. Circumventing these limits will violate the licence terms of the provider. For most e-resources you will still be able to read the text online where download limits are in place. 

    Don't share course materials online Uploading or sharing course materials or course readings to study assistance websites and other services will infringe copyright in most circumstances. OERs outlined above are the exception and can usually be freely shared.
    Avoid plagiarism

    The University Academic Integrity Policy mandates that students must submit original work.  

    Attribute all sources

    The Academic Integrity Policy mandates that students must attribute or reference all sources. Authors also have a legislated moral (or personal) right to be attributed under copyright.  

    Get advice

    Contact Ask Library if there is a particular resource or item that you cannot locate or access in Library Search.  

    Contact the Copyright & Licensing Coordinator in relation to copyright queries. 


  • Copyright ownership

  • Research or study exception

    The fair dealing exception for research or study permits copying of a ‘reasonable portion’, generally up to:

    • 10% of the words or pages;
    • 1 chapter or article; or 
    • Multiple articles from the same periodical (newspaper, magazine, journal) if it's for the same course of study.   

    If copying more than a reasonable portion, or copying other types of materials such as an artistic work, sound recording, film or broadcast, the following fairness factors must be considered, in aggregate:

    • Purpose of the copying (eg research and study).
    • The nature of the work. 
    • Commercial availability of the work. 
    • The effect of copying on the market for the work. 
    • Amount and substantiality of the part used. 

    The exception extends to personal research or study, not just formally enrolled coursework, and also covers material used in assignments and theses. However, the exception does not extend to publishing material or making it available online.

  • Using material in assessments

    The examination exception in the Copyright Act permits unlimited copying and communication of any type of material, but only where it is being included in an exam or assessment question or answer. The exception cannot be relied on for using material in relation to practice tests and other activities that are not being formally assessed as part of the final course grade.

  • Discipline-specific considerations


    Copyright for ‘artistic works’ includes drawings, blueprints, plans, buildings and models of buildings, among other forms. The creation of a three-dimensional artistic work from a two-dimensional work - or vice-versa - is considered a reproduction and may infringe copyright. As such, a building can’t be constructed from architectural plans unless there is a licence or agreement in place, such as between an architect and client.
    However, a building can be reproduced as a drawing, painting, etching or photograph without infringing copyright under an exception in the Copyright Act.


    Legislation and judgments are often released under licence that permits reproduction, communication and annotation for educational purposes. Refer to the relevant resource for specific details.

    If there is no licence applicable, consider submitting a permission request to the relevant agency. Crown copyright subsists from the date made plus 50 years. 


    The University has a Music Licence with APRA/AMCOS, ARIA and PPCA. The agreement allows University staff and students to perform, record and share musical works and sound recordings in certain circumstances. See the Copyright Collecting Society Licences page for more details.