Issue 15

Quick Q & A: Copyright

(Last Updated On: March 3, 2014)

Can’t I copy things if it’s for an educational purpose?
No. Usually the permitted uses under the Copyright Act do not give institutions enough leeway to use copyright for educational purposes.

What types of work are covered by copyright?
Most educational resources are copyright works – books, songs, poems, magazine articles, film scripts, posters, drawings, paintings, maps, sheet music, tapes, CDs, DVDs, TV broadcasts, computer programs – even the layout of a website or newspaper page can be copyright. Just because a work is freely available, for instance on the Internet or as promotional material, does not mean it is copyright-free.

So, what am I not allowed to do with copyright material?
• Copy (photocopy, scan, record, download and store);
• Issue copies to the public (publish or distribute copies);
• Perform, play or show in public;
• Communicate to the public (on radio, TV or the Internet); or
• Adapt (such as translate a poem from one language to another, adapt a novel into a film script)

How do I get permission to use copyright works?
Generally, you need consent from the copyright owner (often there will be more than one). It’s a good idea to always get permission in writing. In some cases, schools can get licences that give blanket permission to use copyright works in various ways.

Where can I found out more about blanket licences?
• One-stop-shop licensing scheme for schools – New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA);
• The Australasian Performing Rights Association (musical works).
• Copyright Licensing Limited (printed published works);
• The Print Media Copyright Agency (many New Zealand daily, business and community newspapers and magazines); and
• Screenrights (television and radio broadcasts);

Can I copy anything without permission?
Yes. You don’t need permission if:
• The work is no longer protected by copyright. If the period of protection has expired, usual copyright rules no longer apply;
• Only an insubstantial part of the work is used (meaning a small and unimportant part of a work). Use caution when assessing substantiality. In most cases educational purposes will call for use of a substantial or important part;
• A ‘permitted use’ applies.

What are permitted uses?
The Copyright Act allows the use of copyright material in certain circumstances (called “permitted uses”) for educational purposes, such as hand-written copying, copying short extracts, and use for examination. A summary of permitted uses relevant to the education sector, is available from the Copyright Council of New Zealand (see download below).

Where can I go for more information?
Copyright Licensing Limited –
The Australasian Performing Rights Association –
New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) –
The Print Media Copyright Agency –
Screenrights –

Source: Copyright Council of New Zealand. To download the full information sheet go

PLEASE NOTE: This article is intended for general information and should not be relied on as specific legal advice. If you require further information or need to know how the law applies in a particular situation, please seek advice from a specialist lawyer.

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Categories: Issue 15