Seeking copyright permission

For teaching

Obtaining permission to copy a work is a matter of negotiation with the copyright owner, who is under no legal obligation to allow the copying. They may refuse permission, or grant permission subject to conditions. These conditions often require a specified acknowledgment of the source of the work and may include payment of a fee. 

When must you obtain permission?

The copyright owner's permission is required if you want to use any of the following for teaching purposes:

  • students' work
  • unpublished personal material such as letters, emails, photographs
  • any material that is outside of, or in access of, use permitted under the Copyright Act and other educational licences, agreements and contracts.

What is necessary?

At UNE it is the Course Coordinator's responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright owner if required. Correspondence with the copyright owner, whether by email or letter, should cover the following and be kept on file (preferably on TRIM):

  • Your name and contact details at UNE
  • The copyright owner/s name and contact details
  • Details of the material to be copied or communicated, such as which part or parts of the work you want to copy, page numbers, chapter titles and any artworks included
  • An outline of how the material is to be used and how many copies will be made. For example: photocopied for unit readers for enrolled students each semester, or put online for student access
  • Specify how long the permission lasts: whether it's a one-off copy or if the material will continue to be copied and used over a set period of time
  • Specify that the use will be non-commercial and for the educational purposes of the University only
  • If changes are made to the material, explain why the changes are important
  • Identify how the copyright owner or the work will be acknowledged.

Identifying the copyright owner

While the author/first creator of a work may be the copyright owner, copyright is sometimes owned by an employer, or may have been assigned to publishers. Some works may contain multiple copyrights. For example a music CD may copyright in the lyrics, copyright in the musical works, the arrangement of the works, the performance of the works, as well as copyright in the actual sound recording. If you request permission from one owner, do not assume that this will mean all concerned parties have authorised the use. If you are in doubt, expressly ask if there is anyone else from whom permission should be sought.

Contacting the copyright owner

Copyright owners can be difficult to trace or may simply not respond, so allow plenty of time to make contact, and be prepared to use an alternative strategy, such as using a different resource, or copying under Educational Licence Provisions, if contact cannot be made. Publishers and other organisations which manage copyright often have a website that facilitates permission requests. Alternatively, collecting societies may have information about copyright owners and how you can ask for permission, or may even be able to licence use of the material:

Orphaned works

'Orphaned work' refers to material which is still under copyright but whose copyright owners are difficult to trace, e.g. where the author has died, or a company has ceased to operate. Locating the owner of the orphaned work and obtaining permission to use the material, in these circumstances, can prove to be difficult or impossible.

The problem of 'orphaned works' has increased with the introduction of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement in 2005, and the extension of copyright from 50 years to 70 years. In some situations, it may be possible to rely on the Section 200AB exception to use orphaned works.

Other considerations

Material reproduced under the terms of an agreement with the copyright owner may only be sold if this has been specified in the agreement.  If sold via the on-campus bookshop, please check with the manager there to ensure that you meet their obligations including GST compliance.

It is advisable to note 'Reproduced with permission' (or similar) with the material's citation, to save further investigation.