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4 tips to combat copyright confusion

By Jean 14 Apr 2019
Assignment papers on wooden desk with pen and glasses.

Let’s be honest, copyright can be confusing. As a university student, and throughout your career, you’ll face many tricky situations when it comes to using information sources, images, graphics and referencing. The only way to combat this copyright confusion is to arm yourself with some serious knowledge so you can become the ultimate copyright ninja.

Here are my top four tips for avoiding copyright confusion:

1. Be respectful to the rights of the creator

Imagine if someone took something of yours and said it was theirs. I bet you’d be pretty upset. Remember to always show respect for the creative work of others by seeking permission and giving credit by referencing.

2. Avoid 'right click' copy and paste

Images can add an extra element to your presentation or assignment. When you’re looking for that perfect picture, make sure you don’t copy and paste just anything off the internet.

It’s a good idea to use an image that has an Open Access licence like Creative Commons so you can use the image in almost any way you please. Remember to check what type of licence it is first though. Each one is different and has different rules on how you can use, modify or distribute the image. It is also important to always reference material whether it is considered Open Access or not. For more information about accessing and using imagery, visit the USQ Library’s Open Access page.

To find images for your assignments, check out these links:

3. It’s okay to copy print materials

It’s okay to make a copy of a ‘reasonable portion’ of print material for yourself or to send to someone else (i.e. as an attachment to an email).

However, you are not allowed to make more than one copy and send it to your friends, sell your copy or copy commercial films, music, software, etc.

4. Don’t forget to attribute and reference

Referencing is a way to acknowledge the information used in your assignment or other written work. It acknowledges the source and allows the reader to trace it if they want to find out more information. If you’re unsure about the correct way to reference, head to the USQ Library Referencing Guide.

Attributing Open Access images is also really important but there are different rules. Attribution assigns credit to the creator of a work using three different elements: Author, Title of image and Source. If you’re using a Creative Commons image you also need to include a link to the licence.

If you’re wondering what the perfect attribution really looks like, scroll down on the USQ Library’s Open Access page.

You’re well on your way to becoming the ultimate copyright ninja, but if you’re still feeling a bit confused or you want to double check something for your assignment, don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you can’t find the answer on the USQ Library website, contact USQ’s Copyright Information Officer at

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