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What does electronic copying include?

Does 'copy' or 'copying' include making an electronic copy or copying by electronic means? Under the Copyright Act, the terms 'copy' and 'copying' include making a copy in electronic format, or making copies by means of electronic reproduction. For literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, copying also includes storing the work in any medium by any means.

For example, scanning an article from a journal amounts to making an electronic copy of the journal, and printing a photograph from the Internet amounts to making a hard copy of the photograph.

Similarly, downloading a movie or song from the Internet and storing it on your computer or on a DVD or CD amounts to making an electronic copy of the movie or song.

Accordingly, under the Copyright Act, the owner of copyright in any work has the exclusive right to copy that work (including making electronic copies of the work). Similarly, where an exception under the Copyright Act permits the copying of part or all of a copyright work, that copy may be made in hard copy or electronic format.

Although the terms of copyright licences differ, frequently licences do not permit copies to be made in electronic format. Therefore, it is good practice to make sure that any licence or specific permission you wish to rely on to make electronic copies of a work permits you to copy the work by electronic means and/or copies to be made in electronic format.

What about copying computer programs?

Under the Copyright Act, computer programs are protected by copyright as literary works.

Making a reproduction of a substantial part of a computer program will therefore amount to copying the computer program.

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 a computer program or install it on another computer unless it is permitted under the purchase agreement or licence associated with the computer program.

Can I place a work on the intranet?

Remember that placing a copy of the work on a school intranet may amount to authorising multiple copies of the work.

Accordingly, you should not place a copy of the whole work on the intranet unless you are permitted to make (or authorise the making of) multiple copies of the whole work.

Can I copy websites or works on the Internet?

Computer programs are the computer language or code underlying any work that may be accessed via the Internet (including websites and works on webpages).

Computer programs are protected by copyright as literary works. Each website is therefore protected by copyright as a literary work (that is, the underlying computer program).

In addition, a web page may contain original text (that is, a literary work) and possibly original diagrams, images, photographs or other original works (that is, artistic works).

To the extent that the layout of a webpage is original, it may be protected by copyright as a typographical arrangement.

A webpage or website may also be protected as a compilation (the combination of literary and artistic works and the typographic arrangement comprising the webpage or website).

As such, it may be an infringement of copyright to copy all or even part of a website or webpage without permission.

It is best practice to obtain permission from the copyright owner before copying any works from the Internet.

NB: The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 relates to the uploading or downloading of a piece of work in a file sharing network that infringes the copyright in that work.

Please read this section of the NetSafe website