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Guidance on permitted use of copyright works for study, research and teaching purposes

General Information

All staff and students must abide by the laws of Copyright as defined in the Copyright Act 1994 including all amendments. However an important exception to this is when you access information from any database that your institution subscribes to, then the database's specific terms and conditions take priority over the Copyright Act. For more information about each database's terms and conditions see our 'Guide to Vendors Copyright Terms of Use' at

What is Copyright?

Copyright refers to the rights of an author or creator and are automatically given to control the copying, distribution and adaptation of their work. Users of copyright works must restrict their use to that permitted by the Copyright Act 1994 or specific license agreements or specific permissions given by authors/creators.

Copyright does not have to be registered and the copyright symbol does not have to appear on a work for it to be protected by copyright.

Works protected by copyright:

In New Zealand, the categories of protected works are defined in section 2 of the Copyright Act and are as follows.

  • literary works including words of a book, poem, newspaper or journal article, speech or song, email, or training manual, as well as tables and compilations, and computer programs
  • dramatic works including dance, mime and film scenarios or scripts
  • musical works including the score and sheet music
  • artistic works including paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, models, photographs and sculptures
  • sound recordings separate to the actual music or story
  • films for any genre or format, separate from the underlying script, music or broadcast
  • communication works including radio and television broadcasts and internet webcasts
  • typographical arrangements of published editions covering the layout of the edition derived from a complete or partial literary, dramatic or musical work.

How Long Does Copyright last?

For most works copyright lasts for 50 years from the end of the year of the death of the author. However there are some exceptions to this. For more detail on duration of copyright for different types of works see sections 22-25 of the Copyright Act and the Copyright Licensing NZ Knowledge Base


Copying allowed for exams and assignments

The Copyright Act 1994 (section 49) allows anything to be done for the purposes of an examination. This can involve setting the questions, communicating the questions to candidates, or answering the questions.

Staff and students may copy anything for the purposes of examination. Examinations include any work which counts towards a student’s final grade in a course, including assignments and theses. However note that this exception does not allow the work to subsequently be made publicly available. 


You must acknowledge where your material comes from.  (Copyright Act 1994)

You should include in any acknowledgment the elements below. Please check your referencing style for examples of other materials.

For an Edited Book Chapter For a Journal Article For a Website
Author(s) of chapter Author(s) of article Author(s) of the page
Chapter title Article title Title of webpage
Editor(s) of the book Name of the journal Publication date
Book title Year of publication URL
Year of publication Volume  
Edition Issue  
Place of publication Pages of the article  
Pages of the chapter    

Contact people

For copyright assistance contact your School's Subject Librarian in the first instance. More complex matters can be escalated to Unitec's Copyright Officer at or Unitec's in-house Legal Counsel.

If you have permission from a copyright owner for specific copying please forward the email or letter giving permission to