Copying and communicating copyright materials

Copying a work means using the work in any way that reproduces it. Communicating a work means using it in a way that shares it.

Copying material

Copying material means using it in a way that produces another material version of it. Technology has exponentially increased the ways in which works can be copied. Examples of copying include photocopying, downloading, recording and format-shifting. You are also copying when you right-click and save an image or when you screencast a video or a game. You are technically copying when you retweet someone’s tweet on Twitter or when you reblog someone’s blog on Tumblr.

Not all copying is infringement, though. In fact, a lot of copying, especially if it is for personal use, for research or for study, is an exception to the rule. For more information see Fair dealing.

A note about copying in social media: Use of material on social media platforms is usually governed by the terms of use for each platform. Retweeting on Twitter and reblogging on Tumblr is not an infringement of copyright because they’re allowed by the platforms. It’s always good to check the terms of use before reposting someone else’s content.

Copyright tweet

Communicating material

Communicating material means sharing it with others by sending it to them electronically or by making it available online. That includes emailing materials to others, uploading them to host servers and posting them to websites.

It does not matter how many people can access the material, if material is shared electronically with one other person, it has still been communicated.

Not all communicating is infringement, though. For more information see Fair dealing.

Course sharing websites

There are a number of course sharing websites that specialise in uploading, sharing and selling academic works such as lecture notes, course outlines and old exam papers. In accordance with the UNSW’s Intellectual Property Policy, course materials such as lecture notes that are produced by UNSW staff during the course of their employment, are the property of UNSW. Therefore, uploading and sharing such materials on these websites constitute a copyright infringement.

In addition, downloading course content from these websites and presenting it as your own constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person's work or ideas as your own and is a serious breach of ethics at UNSW. 

For more information on how to avoid plagiarism, see ELISE | Informing your studies.

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