Identifying infringing material

Material is often made available on websites without permission from the creator or the copyright owner, which is a copyright infringement. Do not knowingly use or provide links to infringing material or websites. This is legally termed as "authorising an infringement" and legal action may be taken. Do not download freely available music, films or TV programs, without checking and abiding by the terms and conditions. Sites without terms and conditions are probably not authorised. If in doubt, contact the Copyright Office. Disciplinary action may occur if material is illegally downloaded via University networks. Doing so will be seen as a violation of University policy.

Look for the following, to identify legally uploaded material:

Copyright statements

Most major websites will indicate that they either own copyright or have the right to use the material on their website. The wording for the link to copyright information can vary. To find this information look for the following links on websites:

  • Copyright
  • Conditions of Use
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Terms of Use
  • Legal
  • Disclaimer

Official or reputable sites

Choose official websites or primary websites, where possible. For example, if you would like to download a podcast from an ABC program, download it from the ABC’s website, rather than a secondary site that may not have the rights to the podcast.

Be aware of secondary sites, that have more material available for downloading or purchasing than official sites, that are hosted by the creator/owner. In cases such as this, the secondary site has probably uploaded or created unofficial material that is being passed off as genuine. Downloading, purchasing or directing others to sites such as these could be seen as an infringement.

Verification on social media sites

Check for the verification of ownership or the profile of the uploader on material that is uploaded on to social media channels, such as YouTube, Google video, Vimeo and Flickr. Officially hosted channels are preferable, such as the ABC official YouTube channel or the CSIRO channel.

Linking to unverified owners of uploaded material can potentially lead to the loss of teaching material, as well as potential copyright infringement issues. Social media channels are required to check for copyright violations on their sites. When copyright infringing material is identified the material is taken down. When material is taken down links in educational material and embedded content in educational material will disappear.

Context, in relation to the material

It is unlikely that a website offering free downloads or streams of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, music, TV shows, computer software or games is a legitimate site. Question the following:

  • Complete material - Excerpts from films, such as promos TV shows or books may be made available legally. However, it is rare for full books, movies or TV shows to be released for free, as creative people want consumers to purchase their material, so that they can make a living.
  • Permanently available content - TV stations now make recently aired episodes of their programs available on their website to be viewed as "catch up" TV, for example the ABC's iView, but it is usually only for a limited period. Trial versions of software that can be downloaded for free usually expire after 30 days, after which you have to buy a licence.
  • Free to download - Copyright owners often stream material for followers to watch online, but it is rare for them to offer free downloads. Copyright owners want consumers to purchase their material, so that they can make an income. Legitimate material that is offered for free is usually accompanied by a rights statement.

Contact the Copyright Office If clarity on the legitimacy of material is required or if help on locating legitimate material is required.

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