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Library Subject Guides

Copyright at UC: General Information

Copyright Overview

Copyright is a form of intellectual property. It is a legal right that automatically arises when an original work is created, for example an artwork, literary work, musical work, film or sound recording. The creator of a work is usually the copyright owner with exclusive rights in relation to their work. The Copyright Act of 1994 governs copyright in New Zealand.


Copyright law also allows for certain exceptions where you don’t need to ask for permission, these include using parts of a work for educational use and fair dealing.


Content above sourced with permission from AUT Copyright & Open Access Advisor.

Copyright applies to works that are original and are expressed in a fixed form.  It does not cover ideas or facts.
Copyright applies to:

  • Artistic works - includes graphic works, paintings, photographs, sculptures, collages, maps.
  • Communication works - television and radio broadcasts, online webcasts.
  • Dramatic works - a work that is a dance, mime or film script.
  • Films - a recording on any medium that consists of a moving image.
  • Literary works - any work that is written, other than a dramatic or musical work.
  • Musical works - includes works that consist of music but not lyrics.
  • Sound recordings - any recording of sound on any medium.
  • Typographical arrangements - the way a typeface is laid out in a published literary work.


Content above sourced with permission from AUT Copyright & Open Access Advisor.

Copyright comes into existence automatically when “the work is recorded, in writing or otherwise” (s15, Copyright Act 1994 (NZ Legislation: Acts website). Copyright does not exist in an idea that is not recorded. “Recorded” here refers to items that may or may not be “published”.

  • Published and Unpublished Works - Copyright continues for 50 years from the death of the author/creator.
  • For works with no known author - the copyright period is 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first made, published, performed, exhibited, or broadcast.
  • Copyright exists in the typographical arrangement (exact printed layout and format) of a published edition for 25 years from the year of publication.
  • Copyright in sound recordings and films ends after 50 years from when the work was made or 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which it is made available to the public, i.e. published, broadcast, included in a cable programme service, shown in public, or played in public.
  • Copyright in broadcasts and cable programmes lasts for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which they are made.
  • Out of print works are still protected by copyright.
  • Crown Copyright - Copyright in Crown publications lasts for 100 years. However, there is no copyright in certain Crown publications, eg. Bills, Acts, Regulations, Parliamentary Debates, Court and Tribunal judgments, reports of Select Committees, Commissions of Inquiry, or Government Inquiries.


Māori cultural works such as imagery, carvings and designs are often culturally significant. It is important to carefully consider not only the copyright of these works, but also the context in which you wish to use them. Even if the works are in the public domain, you may need to seek further advice from appropriate Māori elders or iwi representatives. Refer to the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand's guide to Māori Intellectual Property for further information.

Content above sourced with permission from AUT Copyright & Open Access Advisor.

Copyright attribution

Acknowledging copyright material is required. You are obliged to fully and correctly identify any author, creator, publisher, and source of any material copied.

There are also specific obligations to attribute when using the licences which UC holds. Specific warning notices are required by these licences for use with music, radio and television broadcast material and material on LEARN. The wording for these is available on the Copyright Warning Notices tab

These obligations arise whenever copyright material is legally used by staff or students. For example, if used legally in student essays or theses, in courses on LEARN, in academic publications, in material on web pages. In all these cases you must attribute, see the Attribution tab for the required wording.

Copyright and recordkeeping

If you obtain permission from a copyright owner to copy their material, you must keep a record of that permission.

The UC Copyright Environment

Copyright legislation in New Zealand is complex and includes the:

This 1994 act and its amendments form the basis for all copyright law in NZ and stand where there is no licence acting in conjunction with them.

UC has copyright licences with these organisations. The licences extend the ability of UC staff and students to copy and distribute copyrighted content beyond the limits imposed by the Copyright Act.
Below is a brief description of coverage. The links provide more detailed information from the licensing agencies itself:

  • Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ)
    The Copyright Licensing New Zealand Universities Licence allows you to copy:
    • up to 10% or one chapter of a printed book (whichever is greater),
    • one journal article from a periodical (or more if on the same subject),
    • up to 15 pages from books of short stories and poetry,
    • up to five articles per issue from a local or overseas newspaper (online or hard copy).
  • Screenrights
    The Screenrights licence allows streaming of radio and television broadcasts in a lecture or classroom.

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