What can I copy?

Usually you need the copyright owner’s permission to copy their work but the Copyright Act contains some exceptions which allow you to copy limited amounts of copyright material without obtaining permission.

You can copy copyright material when:

When you have the copyright owner’s permission

  • You can copy a work if you have the copyright owner’s permission. If you contact a copyright owner to ask for permission to copy a work for private purposes remember to specify the reason for the copying and keep a copy of the permission granted to you.
  • Some licences such as Creative Commons allow you to use material subject to certain conditions – check the conditions which apply to the particular licence and abide by these.

Copying out of copyright material

  • Material that is out of copyright is said to be in the public domain. Once all copyright in a work has expired the work can usually be freely copied and there is no need to obtain permission. Remember other types of legislation such as trademark or contract may be involved and may restrict what you can reproduce.
  • See Duration of copyright for more details on the duration of copyright.
  • Republishing a work that is out of copyright does not revive the copyright in the original work. There may be publisher’s copyright in the layout of the new edition and copyright owners in any additions to the newly published edition such as a new introduction or new illustrations