Copyright compliance

Overview

All University staff and students must comply with the Copyright Act when using and creating copyright material.

Students and staff members of the University can be sued as individuals if they infringe copyright and may be held liable to pay damages and the legal costs of the other party. They may also be prosecuted for copyright infringement and be subject to fines and imprisonment in the case of severe infringements.

Under the Copyright Act, the University has a legal duty to ensure that its servers do not transmit or host material that infringes copyright. It may also be held liable for authorising copyright infringement, if it allows staff and students to infringe copyright using its equipment.

The University's Policy on the Use of Information and Communication Technology Resources (ICT Resources) (pdf) states that the University reserves the right to withdraw or restrict access to ICT resources, if University equipment is used to commit a copyright infringement.

The University also reserves the right to take disciplinary action including suspension of candidature or termination of employment, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution.

The University has the right to log network activity and investigate possible unlawful activity.

Managing copyright infringements

Contact the or phone 935 12888 immediately if you:

  • receive a Take Down Notice indicating that infringing copyright material is available on a University of Sydney server
  • believe that material on a University of Sydney server infringes copyright
  • believe that the actions of a staff member or student infringe copyright.


The following principles underpin the copyright investigation and take down procedures:

  • the prompt investigation into allegations of copyright infringement
  • the prompt removal or disabling of access to alleged infringing material
  • advising those involved in the alleged infringement of the complaint and of their rights and responsibilities
  • the privacy of those involved will be protected in accordance with University policy
  • the University will investigate the complaint to establish if there is a legal right to use the material under the Copyright Act or a licence or agreement
  • material will not be reinstated if an infringement of copyright has taken place.


The procedures set out below, enable the University to respond to allegations from copyright owners who believe that copyright material is available on the University of Sydney network in such a way that it constitutes a copyright infringement or a breach of a contract or licence.

These procedures are necessary to ensure that the University is not exposed to liability for copyright infringements carried out by those using its information and communications technology facilities. They are activated only when a complaint is received or discovered by a process of internal audit.

These procedures are supported by Clauses 5(f), 6 and 7 of the University’s Policy on the Use of University Information and Communications Technology Resources (ICT Resources) (pdf).


Summary of procedures

This section summarises the steps taken when a complaint alleging infringement is received:

  1. Copyright Services arranges for access to the alleged infringing material to be removed or disabled.
  2. Copyright Services advises the individual involved and their Head of Department or School of the details of the complaint and the procedures for investigating the allegation.
  3. The Head of Department or School investigates the complaint with the assistance of Copyright Services.
  4. If a legal defence for use of the material cannot be established, access to the material is not restored and the complainant is advised that the material is no longer accessible from a University of Sydney server. The Office of General Counsel will be consulted if it is not clear if a copyright infringement has occurred.
  5. If the University believes that the use of the material is legitimate under the Copyright Act, Copyright Services communicates this to the copyright owner via a Counter Notice. A Counter Notice must be issued within three months from the receipt of the Take Down Notice.
  6. If the copyright owner or their agent does not initiate action against the University within 10 working days from the date the Counter Notice was sent, the University may restore access to the material.
  7. The Head of Department or School, with the assistance of Copyright Services, prepares a brief report on the incident.
  8. The Head of Department or School will consider taking disciplinary action against those who post the infringing material on University servers, in line with existing University policy and procedures.

 

Roles and responsibilities

While Copyright Services coordinates the investigation of complaints, other University staff play important roles in resolving them. These roles and responsibilities are clarified below.

 University Copyright Services

The Director of Copyright Services is the University's Designated Representative for the receipt of Take Down Notices and complaints relating to alleged copyright infringement. The Director is responsible for coordinating appropriate action when a copyright infringement complaint or Take Down Notice is received.

When a complaint is received, the Director will:

  • advise the ICT Information Security Manager of the need to remove or disable access to the alleged infringing material
  • advise the individual involved and their Head of Department or School of the details of the complaint and the procedures for investigating the allegation
  • assist the Head of Department or School to resolve the incident
  • advise all parties, including the complainant, of the outcome of the process.
 
 Head of School or Department

You will be advised of allegations of copyright infringements involving staff, students or workstations in your Department or School, and will play an active role in resolving the situation.

Note the following:

  • at this stage, the complaint is just an allegation to be investigated. The University is required to investigate all allegations of copyright infringement.
  • the privacy of the individual(s) involved should be respected and the matter must be regarded as confidential
  • it is your role to work with the individual(s) involved and the Director of Copyright Services, to investigate the alleged breach and to establish if the use of the material can be justified under a licence or one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act
  • copyright owners can face penalties under the Copyright Act for making groundless threats of legal proceedings in relation to copyright infringement; they frequently use software to track downloads of movies, music and games and feel sure they have a legitimate claim of infringement
  • you need to prepare a brief report on the incident when the matter has been resolved
  • if a copyright infringement has occurred, you should consider whether the incident warrants disciplinary action in accordance with University policy
  • you should consider if a review of security procedures for workstations in your Department or School is necessary and discuss this with
  • you should also consider whether a copyright education programme would be beneficial for staff in your Department or School and discuss this with
 Information and Communications Technology Staff

ICT staff, including Faculty Network Managers, have a number of responsibilities:

  • identifying the port, workstation and the individual user involved and communicating this information solely to the Director of Copyright Services and the ICT Information Security Manager
  • respecting the privacy of the individual(s) involved. The matter must be kept confidential: only the managers mentioned above should be made aware of the identity of those involved
  • removing or disabling access to the alleged infringing material from the workstation involved, after receiving authorisation from the Director of Copyright Services and the ICT Information Security Manager
  • carrying out a review of network security and suggesting improvements in areas, such as monitoring the use of file sharing software, when requested by the ICT Information Security Manager.
 
 Students and staff

If you receive an allegation of copyright infringement arising from your study, use of University ICT resources or employment at the University of Sydney, immediately contact the

If the allegation concerns private activities unrelated to the University, you should seek advice from a private lawyer. Search the Law Society of New South Wales website for a listing of specialist intellectual property law firms. Undergraduate students can contact the SRC for legal advice, while postgraduates can contact SUPRA.

If the University receives a complaint of alleged copyright infringement involving your logon (e.g. Unikey), the Director of Copyright Services will advise you of the complaint and outline the procedures which will take place. The Head of your Department or School will also be advised.

Note the following:

  • at this stage, the complaint is simply an allegation. The University is required to investigate all allegations of copyright infringement.
  • copyright owners can face penalties under the Copyright Act for making groundless threats of legal proceedings in relation to copyright infringement; they frequently use software to track downloads of movies, music and games and feel sure they have a legitimate claim of infringement
  • your privacy will be respected and the matter will be regarded as confidential
  • you should cooperate with the Head of your Department or School and the Director of Copyright Services who will be working with you to investigate the incident and resolve the situation
  • you accepted the University's conditions of use of its ICT equipment and network when you obtained your email account and Unikey. Re-read these conditions to check that your use was within the scope - Policy on the Use of University Information and Communication Technology Resources (ICT Resources) (pdf)
  • the Head of your Department or School may consider initiating disciplinary action against you including suspension of access to ICT facilities and/or suspension of candidature if you are a student
  • if you believe that your use of the material is legitimate under one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, you will need to send information setting out the basis of your claim to the Director of Copyright Services within three months from the date you received a copy of the complaint. Remember, you may need to defend your case in court.
  • if the University supports your view that your use of the material is legitimate, the Director of Copyright Services will send a Counter Notice to the copyright owner or their agent
  • if the copyright owner or their agent does not initiate action against the University within 10 working days from the date the Counter Notice was sent, the University may restore access to the material
  • if the University does not support your view that the use of the material is legitimate, the material will not be restored and the Office of General Counsel will be consulted
  • your Head of Department or School will prepare a brief report on the incident. This report will not be placed on your personal file.
 

Protecting yourself against legal action

It’s your responsibility to ensure that your use of University ICT resources and copyright material is within the limits of the Copyright Act and key University policies. This section outlines some of the methods you can use to stay within the law and to protect yourself from allegations of copyright infringement.

Plagiarism or copyright infringement?

Plagiarism involves taking someone’s ideas, words, data or diagrams and presenting them as your own without acknowledging the original sources. Good academic practice requires that you acknowledge other people's research or ideas when you use them in your assignments or research. Plagiarism is not necessarily a breach of copyright but if it is done knowingly, the University considers it to be academic misconduct and dishonest.

If you always acknowledge the source of any information that you quote or paraphrase in your assignments or research, you should not experience any difficulties with the moral rights clauses of the Copyright Act.

Staff should ensure that they acknowledge authors and sources when preparing teaching materials and be careful not to subject other people’s work to derogatory treatment.

For more information on the University’s policies on managing plagiarism, visit the All your own work website.

Copyright infringement does not usually involve trying to pass someone else's work off as your own, but rather, the exploitation of another person’s work without their consent. For instance, producing a pirate version of a CD or movie without the copyright owner’s permission, or commercially exploiting infringing copies by selling pirated copies at a local market. Such activities may result in civil action or sometimes, criminal proceedings. Penalties include payment of damages and legal costs, fines or imprisonment.

Downloading files

Many of the websites offering free downloads of current movies, TV programs, music, games and software are illegal. The material is on the site without the permission of the copyright owners and downloading copies from these websites is a breach of copyright.

Movie and TV download sites

There are, however, a number of legal movie and TV download sites:


The Motion Picture Association of America maintains a list of legal movie and TV download sites.
Some video on-demand services are only available in the US but other services are available to international users.

Birdtrax from the University of Illinois, US, comments on the differences between various legal music, movie and TV program sites.


On legal sites with free content, you won't find the most recent blockbuster, but you will find a large number of classics, trailers, independent films, documentaries, etc.


Don’t forget that many TV broadcasters make their programs and podcasts available to download. For example, ABC iView and SBS.

AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) aims to protect the film and television industry from the impact of piracy in Australia. Its Consumer Guides provide details about the rights and wrongs when viewing and downloading movies.

Most movies or videos on YouTube are not legal copies – don’t get into trouble by downloading them or uploading them to another web site. If you want to share, send your friends the page link instead.

Want to download music legally?

There are more than 500 legitimate digital music services online, offering over 6 million tracks – at least four times the stock of a music megastore.
MIPI, the Music Industry Piracy Investigations body in Australia, has a useful Guide to digital music, which lists many legal music sites, divided into free and pay-for services.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) also keeps a list of legal music sites.

To stay legal, you should only sideload material that you got legitimately to devices that you own, such as a mobile phone or music player. You must not transfer material to someone else’s mobile phone, or to your Facebook site or other web sites.

Downloading games

Check out these 10 tips on how to spot a pirated (counterfeit) computer or video game from the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) web site.

With pirated games, you can run the risk of receiving a poor quality or faulty product – don’t risk breaking the law over a dodgy game.

File sharing

Uploading and downloading files using peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing programs (e.g. BitTorrent, DC++, [[http://www.limewire.com/legal/safety]] is illegal, unless you have permission from the copyright owner.

It’s the same situation with uploading files to YouTube. Remember, you can upload content that you created yourself, but not copyright works, such as music or movies.

Furthermore, using University equipment to download, distribute or store illegal copies is a breach of the University’s Policy on the Use of Information and Communication Technology Resources (pdf).

See the Australian Recording Industry Association‘s (ARIA) article, Separating myth from reality for an overview of the impact of illegal file downloading on the music industry.


You could also be putting your personal details and private files at risk by opening up your computer with p2p software and running the danger of downloading viruses and malicious code. If you want to avoid this, have a look at the MIPI site and their link to the University of Chicago’s site on how to disable the software’s uploading capability.


Protect yourself - do it legally
  • don’t link to websites that offer copyright infringing material or which direct users to copyright infringing material (such as mp3 recordings, video files, software or commercial photographs)
  • don’t email copyright material to other people (e.g. audio & video files, commercial photographs, software, journal articles)
  • don’t store copyright material on University computers or servers
  • copyright watchdogs from the music, movie and software industries do monitor file sharing sites, using the same sites and software that you do, and will pursue people who are infringing copyright
  • only download movies and music from websites where the material has been made available legitimately. These websites usually charge a fee for downloading or clearly indicate that the copyright owner has authorised sharing of the material.
  • you can legally copy a CD or recording that you own onto your iPod, MP3 player, hard disk or car stereo for your own private and domestic use.

Technological Protection Measures

Technological protection measures (TPMs) are devices, measures or technology, which copyright owners can use to stop their material being accessed or copied by unauthorised users.

The Copyright Act establishes two categories of TPMs:

  • access control TPMs, which control access to a work using passwords, access codes and encryption systems
  • copy control TPMs, which prevent a work being copied, e.g. copy control on a DVD or CD.

Note that region-coding on DVD players is excluded from the TPM protection scheme. This means that the settings on a DVD player can be adjusted to play DVDs from all regions. However, at this stage, software should not be installed on University computers to enable DVD drives in computers to play DVDs from all regions. This could amount to the use of a circumvention device. (see below for more information).

Under the Copyright Act, it is an offence to circumvent an access control TPM, but not to circumvent a copy control TPM.

However, you should note the impact of other sections of the Copyright Act, which limit this gap in practice:

  • s116AO of the Copyright Act prohibits the manufacture or importation of circumvention devices for TPMs with the intention of providing them to another person or the public
  • s116AP prohibits the supply of circumvention services to another person or the public

Copyright owners may take legal action against anyone who deliberately or knowingly uses a device to circumvent an access control TPM or manufactures, imports or supplies a circumvention device or service to another person.

There are, however, several exemptions and limits to liability:

  1. copying and communicating a work for educational purposes under Part VB of the Copyright Act. For more information on the amounts that can be copied and communicated, see Course readings. This exemption does not cover the copying of CDs under the Music Licence.
  2. for the purposes of reproducing or communicating material to assist people with a disability in using print
  3. to achieve interoperability between computer programs
  4. for the purposes of encryption research
  5. for the purposes of testing the security of a computer system or network
  6. to protect the privacy of online information.


Detailed conditions are attached to items 3-5 and you should discuss the issues with the Director of Copyright Services before taking any action.

While the exemptions outlined above allow for the circumvention of an access control TPM, restrictions on the manufacture, importation and supply of circumvention devices and services, limit the usefulness of the exemptions. Since the Copyright Act does not allow for the manufacture or supply of circumvention devices to other people or organisations, the University may not be in a position to take advantage of the exemptions because it is unable to acquire the necessary circumvention devices.