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The Australian Copyright Act is very clear about how the
intellectual property of an author is protected
I went to see the Counting Crows at the Sydney Opera House Concert
Hall recently. For those who maybe haven't heard of them (which is
almost everyone I tell this to), they are a Californian band from way
back in 1991.
A couple of things occurred that were interesting to me. The first
was that from my position at the back of the Concert Hall I could see
hundreds of tiny colourful mobile phone screens as the audience filmed
the concert. The second was that dotted around the Concert Hall were
cameramen apparently also filming the concert. An announcement by the
band confirmed that the concert was being streamed live to YouTube.
So the next day, YouTube was full of audience versions of the
concert, and also the official version.
The effect on the band's publicity is obvious – rather than
prohibiting anyone from taking photos, or locking down the concert so
that no possible leaking of it could occur to the outside world, they
embraced the new forms of sharing and collaboration, which raises
their profile around the world.
But we can't always assume that a content creator (such as a band,
writer, publisher or artist) is happy to share their work. As students
(and teachers), we need to be careful that the use of another's images
or content doesn't violate their copyright. How do we find out?
Well, whether or not the author has indicated that it's their
copyright, the work is generally protected. We need to be aware of
this, and apart from "Fair Use" provisions under the
Copyright Act (eg. using parts for study or research, attributing the
author), we should always check with the author that it's okay to use.
A lot of stuff on the Internet now comes under Free for Education or
Creative Commons licences, which can allow you to use work for
specific purposes, even to copy and distribute it. But unless this is
explicitly stated, you're treading a fine line if you think you can
copy and use it without their permission.
The Australian Copyright Act is very clear about how the intellectual
property of an author is protected, and the Copyright Council of Australia has
some great online documents that tell you what you can and can't do
with various items, from movies to kitchen recipes.
There are also different copyright laws in most countries, and some
are more restrictive than others. So what is legal in one country
might not be legal in another.
As a student, you also need to be aware that the use of another
student's work – even with their permission – can be considered
plagiarism, which is quite a serious academic offence.
Whenever you use anything that someone else has created, it's good
manners (and maybe even a legal requirement) that you attribute them
as the author.
Having said that, I am happy for you to copy, distribute and
otherwise share this post!