What are literary and dramatic works?
A literary work is any work that is written, spoken, or sung, provided it is recorded (in writing or otherwise) such as the words of a book, poem, magazine or newspaper article, speech, song, computer program, table and compilation), and which is not a dramatic work or a musical work. These works include texts appearing in books, magazines, newspapers, other forms of printed or electronic publication, and on websites. They could be stories, articles, poems, letters, reports, and so on.
A dramatic work includes a dance or mime, and a scenario or script for a film.
Copyright subsists in literary and dramatic works provided the work qualifies for copyright protection, is original and is recorded in material form.
Under the Copyright Act,
- one copy of a literary or dramatic work may be made by or on behalf of a person giving a lesson for instructional purposes
- part of a literary or dramatic work may be copied by a teacher or student for research or private study
- multiple copies of a part of a literary or dramatic work may be made by or on behalf of an educational establishment for educational purposes
- a literary work may be performed by staff or students at the educational establishment for instructional purposes.
Multiple copying of literary and dramatic works
The limits on multiple copying apply to an individual copyright work, which is not necessarily a whole publication. For example, an article in a newspaper is a whole work, and a single story is a whole work, even when it is published as part of a book of stories. When making multiple copies you can copy any pictures that are included in the part of the work you are copying, but you can't copy the pictures on their own.
Remember that you may not be able to place one whole copy of a work on a school intranet. This may amount to authorising multiple copies of the work, and would not be covered by the exceptions or permissions that allow only one copy of a work to be made, or multiple copies of only part of a work to be made.
Adapting literary and dramatic works
The Copyright Act does not allow you to make an adaptation of a literary or dramatic work without the copyright owner's permission.
An adaptation of a literary work includes:
- a translation of the work from one language to another
- a translation of the work from a dramatic work into a literary work
- a translation of the work from a literary work into a dramatic work
- a translation of the work in which the story or action is conveyed wholly or mainly by means of pictures in a form suitable for reproduction in a book, or in a newspaper, magazine, or similar periodical.
In relation to a computer program, an adaptation includes a version of the program in which it is converted into or out of a computer language or code or into a different computer language or code, otherwise than incidentally in the course of running the program.
The Copyright Act does not allow you to change an artistic work without the copyright owner's permission.
Copying a literary or dramatic work for the purpose of research or private study
This exception allows fair dealing with a literary or dramatic work for a person's own research or private study.
When considering whether a particular instance of copying amounts to fair dealing for the purpose of research or private study, the following considerations must be taken into account:
- the purpose of the copying
- the nature of the work copied
- whether the work could have been obtained within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price
- the effect of the copying on the potential market for, or value of, the work
- the amount and substantiality of the part of the work copied in relation to the whole work.
This exception does not permit the making of multiple copies of a work (ie more than one copy of the same work or part of the work on the same occasion).
Accordingly, you cannot direct your students to all make a copy of the same work, as that is equivalent to authorising the making of multiple copies.
Making multiple copies of part of a literary or dramatic work for educational purposes
This exception allows a copy of a part of a work (up to 3% or three pages of a literary or dramatic work, whichever is the greater, provided that no more than 50% of the work is copied) to be made by or on behalf of an educational establishment for educational purposes. The work you copy from must not be copied again at the school within 14 days.
Copying literary or dramatic works for examination purposes
This exception allows you to make copies of works for examination purposes. There are no restrictions on the use of copyright material to set and answer examination questions. This exception is unlikely to extend to the storage of examination papers in library databases for future reference and study by students. (Examinations include assessments such as NCEA.)
Copying a whole literary or dramatic work for instructional purposes
This exception allows a person giving a lesson to make one copy of a whole literary or dramatic work (eg, a play, poem or article) from any source that you need to in the course of preparation for instruction, for use in the course of instruction, or in the course of instruction. This would not include uploading the work onto an intranet.
Copying literary or dramatic works from subscriptions
If you have access to online databases by subscription or contract, you must follow the terms of that contract.
Copying computer programs
Computer programs are classified as literary works under the Copyright Act. Accordingly, a person giving a lesson may make one copy of a computer program for instructional purposes. A copy of up to 3% of a computer program may be made by an educational establishment for educational purposes. In addition, one backup copy of a computer program may be made under the Copyright Act, unless the copyright owner has expressly prohibited this. (Note that a person may own the CD or other media the program is provided in, but not copyright in the program itself.)
Apart from these provisions, you may not copy the computer program or install it on another computer unless it is permitted under the purchase agreement or licence associated with the computer program.
Copying a typographical work (page design)
A typographical work means the typographical arrangement of a published edition, being the layout of words and associated elements on the pages of published works such as books, magazines, journals, newspapers, posters, and websites.
Publishers of printed works own copyright in the typographic arrangement of a published work, and this copyright lasts for 25 years. The publisher's copyright protects the typeset or image of a work on a page and exists independently of any copyright in the underlying work.
It therefore only extends to protection against making facsimile copies of the arrangement not the underlying work. The underlying works are likely to be protected by separate copyright and should not be copied in isolation (for instance, cut and paste and printed) without permission from the owner of copyright in the underlying work.
So even if copyright in the work featured in the publication has expired (the author may have died more than 50 years ago), if the published work is less than 25 years old, you still have to get permission from the publisher to photocopy or otherwise reproduce the typographical arrangement of the pages (unless you are copying under the exceptions described above or a copyright licence).
If your school has the following copyright licences, you will be able to copy more than the amounts above. To find out what these licences cover and what they allow you to copy, go to: