Other materials

Music recordings used in open online courses must be created by the instructor, must be open access or must be used with unrestricted permission from the copyright owner. Games are complicated and contain many layers of copyright, but they can also be used in some circumstances.

Unfortunately, there are no exceptions in Australian copyright law that grant any sort of blanket permission for course materials in open online courses. There are some exceptions that may apply to rare, specific, individual incidents; however, generally speaking, course materials in open online courses must be approached as if there are no statutory permissions available.

Music recordings

Music recordings can be complicated because they contain many layers of copyright. In some cases, the copyright owners for the written score, the written lyrics, the performance, and the recording of the performance may be different parties. More often though, one party will have secured all of the rights.

Music recordings can be used freely in open online courses if they are created for the courses by the course instructors. In most cases, content created by UNSW instructors for UNSW-branded open online courses will be owned by UNSW and it will be available for use in UNSW-branded open online courses. For more information see Who owns the copyright?

Music recordings can also be used if they have appropriate open access licences. Open access materials can be used for most purposes without asking the rights holders for permission, as long as certain obligations are met. Proper use of open access materials depends on the specific open access licence attached, as different licences have slightly different conditions. However, most open access materials can be used for educational purposes and obligations might include, for example, citing the material properly or linking the content back to the source. For more information see What is open access?

Music recordings can also be used if unrestricted permissions are obtained from the copyright owners. Permissions for use of materials in open online courses should ideally be unrestricted in terms of duration, location, purpose and adaptability. For example, an acceptable permission might allow a music recording to be used for any UNSW course on any platform at any time, as well as allow the music recording to be adapted to meet accessibility requirements.


Games can be complicated bundles of copyright material. You cannot own copyright in game itself but you can own copyright in many of the elements.

Here are some elements that may be subject to copyright, for example:

  • The written instructions;
  • The artwork; and
  • The underlying source code, for electronic or online games.

If you wish to copy and communicate a game for use in an open online course, or if you wish to create a game for use in an open online course, those are some issues to consider. The Library can assist with further guidance if needed.

Anything else?

If you have questions about materials not covered in this section, please contact your Outreach Librarian, and the Library can add guidance to this page.

Specific information about course materials for open online courses:

See also:

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