Copyright for Students

As a student you will create work to submit for assignments and in creating these works, some of the material will be yours and some will belong to other people. When you write an essay, design a dress, create an artwork or a film, these works will contain your words, or your art and your ideas, but you may also have copied words and ideas from other people. The Copyright Act 1994 exists to protect the rights of copyright owners in New Zealand. It sets out rules and procedures for dealing with copyright issues and tells us what we are and are not allowed to copy, whether as an individual, a student, a company or an educational institution.

Copyright in New Zealand is automatic; it does not need to be registered or have a copyright symbol on it. You own the copyright for work that you create as a student, if the work were to be published. However, you do not own the copyright to any work that you use that has been created by someone else so, in order to comply with copyright law, you will need to acknowledge any source that you use (usually by submitting a reference list in APA format) and be certain that you only copy material as set out under the rules in the Copyright Act 1994. For further information about referencing, see the APA referencing guide.

The Copyright Act 1994 has provisions for ‘fair dealing’ for research and private study that allow you to copy insubstantial parts of materials, dependent on:

  • the nature of work copied
  • the availability of the work at a reasonable price
  • the effect of copying on the market, or the value of the work
  • the significance of the portion copied in relation to the work as a whole

This means that you may make one copy only of a small or insignificant part of a work. For example, you may not copy a whole work without permission from the copyright owner; you may not copy large parts of a work, or even a small part that summarises the work as a whole.  As a guide, the amounts you may copy for your own research and private study are as follows:

  • one copy only for individual use, no multiple copying
  • a small extract, up to 10%. It is not considered ‘fair’ to copy the whole of a work (except perhaps, a poem or a journal article)
  • the copying must be done from an original work. A copied item may not be used to make further copies.

The materials you are provided with as part of your studies, such as handouts, book chapters or journal articles, will usually have been copied under special licences available to educational institutions for this purpose. If you receive this material in electronic form you may print off a copy for yourself, but you may not make extra copies or share the material with others, unless the work in question is not subject to copyright or unless you have permission to do so.

Should you require further information please ask the Library and Learning Services staff.


Related Guides

Academic Integrity
Academic Misconduct