Our Wellington and Manawatū campuses are open, Auckland remains closed at AL3. More information.

What the Copyright Act Allows You to Do

The law recognises the rights of users with a number of “exceptions”. These permit the use of copyright material in specific circumstances. These include:

Crown copyright

No copyright exists in any of the following works, whenever those works were made:

  • any Bill introduced into the House of Representatives
  • any Act as defined in section 29 of the Interpretation Act 1999
  • any regulations, which means—
    • regulations as defined in section 2 of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989; and
    • instruments that have, pursuant to section 6A of the Regulations Act 1936 or section 14 of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989, been printed or published as if they were regulations
  • any bylaw as defined in section 2 of the Bylaws Act 1910
  • the New Zealand Parliamentary Debates
  • reports of select committees laid before the House of Representatives
  • judgements of any court or tribunal
  • reports of Royal commissions, commissions of inquiry, ministerial inquiries, or statutory inquiries.

New Zealand Ministries and Departments of the Crown   

Material produced by these bodies is not necessarily copyright free. The CLL licence covers 10% of print based texts. Copying documents in their entirety, brochures or internet based material are not covered by a licence. As these bodies are Crown related most allow for copies to be made for ‘in-house’, non commercial (educational) use. All material must be attributed to the source. The following Crown entities permit multiple copying:


Business, Innovation & Employment


Consumer Affairs


Economic Development







Internal Affairs


New Zealand Customs

Pacific Island Affairs

Social Development

Statistics NZ

Te Puni Kōkiri



Women’s Affairs




Some Ministry material is attributed to other rights’ holders as third parties. In this case permission is required.

Fair dealing

An individual can make a single copy of a work for research or private study. It is “fair” to copy a whole work such as a poem or journal article. It would “not be fair” to copy a whole book unless it is not available for purchase.

Copies can not be provided to others or used by others to make further copies.

The “fair dealing for criticism or review provision” allows copying of sections of works, whole works (eg., poem where the poem is being critiqued), with acknowledgement, for the writing of academic papers/journal articles and student assignments.

Education provision

The Copyright Act (1994) has education provisions which allow for the use of copyright material for "educational purposes". This means for instruction (teaching).

  • A single copy of a work can be made for instruction purposes: images/illustrations/graphs/diagrams can be copied in PowerPoint presentations or OHP sheets, as long as these are acknowledged. Any images (unless covered by the CLL licence) must be removed before copies of PPT presentations are distributed as handouts, posted on online courses or sent as attachments in emails.
    When using material from a newspaper, a story is defined as a 'work'; from the internet an article/story is a 'work'.

  • Under this exception the Act allows very limited multiple copying of works for distribution to students. Staff may make multiple copies of up to 3% or 3 pages of a whole work, that is, a literary, dramatic, artistic or musical work. However you can not copy a whole work for distribution under this provision. Where 3 pages or less is the whole of the work (e.g. a short story or poem) then no more than 50% may be copied. (The CLL licence permits the making of multiple copies of greater amounts of copyright material.)

  • Multiple copying of copyright material is permitted for the purposes of examination, either in the setting of questions to candidates or the answering of questions.
    Permission must be gained from illustrations, carrying copyright to other owners, used in assignments if assignments are to be copied as exemplars. Permission must be gained for any illustrations, carrying copyright to other owners, used in theses if these are to be published.

  • Playing sound recordings in class is permitted for the purposes of instruction. It is permitted to play from an original, CD or DVD. It is not permitted to download or copy an extract for playing in class.

  • Copying of sound recordings where the recordings are for learning a language is permitted where the lessons are conducted by distance.

  • Showing films in class is permitted for the purposes of instruction.

  • Performance of works by students or staff for instruction purposes is permitted only before an audience of students and staff, where no charge is made and members of the public are not present.
    Where the performance of a copyright work is for the purposes of examination then the public may be present and the performance may be recorded. No charge can be made to the public. Recordings may not be sold or hired out.

  • For the purposes of teaching Second Language students it is permitted to substitute words to make text accessible as long as the original work is attributed.

Copyright expiry

Works in which copyright has expired may be copied without limitation, with acknowledgement.

A creator’s right to his/her copyright expires after a specified period. This differs depending on the type of work.

The New Zealand Copyright ACT 1994 states that copyright of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus a further 50 years from the end of the year of the creator’s death.

A publisher’s copyright of the typographical arrangement of a work lasts for 25 years from the end of the year in which a work is first published. Copyright protection is attached to successive editions of literary works.

Copyright in a broadcast or cable programme expires at the end of a period of 50 years from the end of the year in which the work is made, or the cable programme included in a cable programme service.

Copyright in a sound recording expires at the end of a period of 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording is made.

Library provision

The Copyright Act enables Massey University Library to make a copy from its holdings of a journal article or 3% of a book for students and staff. This provision allows Library staff to make copies for interloan service, and ensures staff can put items on Reserve / Short Loan.

 The Library’s holdings of electronic journals, databases and ebooks are not covered by this provision in the Copyright Act. These are held under licence. The licences are many and varied in their permitted and restricted terms of use.

See, Article Database and Electronic Journal Copyright and Licence Guidelines and Use of Journal Articles in Stream and Printed Study Guides

Prohibited Activities

The Copyright Act (1994) restricts the rights of users to perform, communicate and copy a number of works in an educational setting. For these works permission from rights’ owners is required unless the item is covered by the CLL licence, Screenrights licence or Music licence.

The concept of “fair dealing” does not apply to ...

  • copying of parts or all of a film or sound recording
  • performing a work in public
  • copying artistic works, such as graphs, tables, maps, diagrams, photographs, artworks


The Copyright Act provides for the formation of licensing organisations. Licensing organisations extend the limits of copying that can be done for distribution to students beyond that specified in the Act. These organisations undertake to indemnify subscribers from any legal action which may arise from this copying, as long as the permitted allowances are adhered to.

A fee, based upon the number of full-time equivalent students enrolled at Massey University, is paid to licensing organisations, which in turn make payments to rights' holders.

Massey University subscribes to licences for educational purposes;

Electronic journals / databases are subscribed to by the Library. The copying and distribution permitted varies depending on the terms of each licence.