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It is critically important that any source material that you use or reference in your class is not in breach of copyright law. Copyright can be defined as “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”

There are a few terms associated with copyright law that you need to be aware of to help you in making the right decisions.


Anything that is copyrighted will be clearly marked as being so with the following international symbol ©. This means that the material may not be copied, used or summarised without the express permission of the copyright owner.

Fair Use

The term ‘fair use’ refers to a specific exception clause in Federation copyright law which basically says that fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. The clause in its entirety can be accessed here

Public Domain

The term ‘public domain’ refers to any published works that are not protected by copyright. This could be because the work never was, or that the copyright has expired. These works are considered owned by the public at large and can be used in any manner without the risk of reproach.


Plagiarism is defined as passing off someone else’s work as your own. Whilst you may be able to copy verbatim something that is in the public domain, it would still be deemed plagiarism if you failed to reference the source material in the bibliography. Always give credit where credit is due.