Library Services Copyright ePortfolios & Copyright

ePortfolios & Copyright

Topics Covered

What is ePortfolio?

Copyright Implications

What the Law Says

Considerations When Creating the ePortfolio

Protecting Your Copyright


What is ePortfolio?

ePortfolio is a Web-based curriculum vitae (résumé) that may showcase and document an individual's accomplishments and experiences at the University.

Individuals can post writing samples, résumés, internship documentation, assessments, design samples, reproductions of their artwork, their own musical compositions, and/or their own computer programs (among other things) for others to view. The ePortfolio owner can choose to share either part or all of his or her ePortfolio with other individuals, including students, academics, potential employers, and others outside of the University.

Copyright Implications

As with other creative and/or original works, the contents of ePortfolio are protected by copyright. Individuals usually own the copyright to works that s/he created. It may, however, be an infringement of copyright to upload (and thereby communicate) the works of others in an ePortfolio. This would include background music, decorative images, literary excerpts, or by-products of academic activities (e.g., someone else's photographs, maps, diagrams, charts etc, someone else's musical composition that the individual performed, someone else's performance of a student's composition, etc.). Under Australian copyright law, ePortfolio owners are responsible for any copyright infringements of reproducing and communicating copyrighted materials that belong to others.

What the Law Says

In Australia , copyright law is in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Copyright does not protect an idea or concept but does protect the expression of the idea, concept or information.

Under Australian law and through international conventions and treaties, a wide variety of material is protected by copyright, including:

  • literary works (e.g. novels, poems, essays, books, journals, newspapers);

  • dramatic works (e.g. plays and screenplays etc);

  • musical works (e.g. sheet-music);

  • artistic works (e.g. paintings, sculpture, cartoons, photographs, illustrations etc);

  • audio-visual material (e.g. sound recordings; films - including animations and moving images; radio and television broadcasts).

[For the purposes of copyright, computer programs are classified as "literary works".]

Material in all formats is covered: hardcopy, electronic, on the internet, etc.

Copyright owners have certain rights in relation to their works, including the rights to reproduce the work (e.g. photocopy, print, download or scan it) and communicate it to the public (e.g. make it available online or by electronic transmission). There are also moral rights - the right of the author to be identified with their works known as the right of attribution; and the right of integrity is the author's right to object to derogatory treatment of their work. Moral rights are independent of the other rights, including economic rights, and continue to exist even after any transfer of the other rights.

Under Australian copyright law, students may copy and communicate in assignments limited amounts of third-party copyright material for research or study without obtaining the copyright owner's permission provided your use is fair. However, by making your work available to potential employers and others outside of the University the fair dealing for research and study protection may be lost. You may need to seek the written permission of the copyright owner to communicate such material. For more information see the Fair Dealing and the Research and Study information sheets available from the Australian Copyright Council.

Considerations When Creating the ePortfolio

Individuals can manage their risk by reviewing the following questions when considering whether to upload materials to an ePortfolio.

What level of access to your ePortfolio have you established?

The inclusion of copyrighted materials in a site that is available only in a secured environment to a limited audience and time period (eg other students enrolled in the same subject, academic staff teaching the subject) for the purposes of education and research may weigh in favour of the fair dealing exceptions. Wider distribution and/or availability could be considered an infringement of the copyright of others.

Why are you including the copyrighted work?

Some types and uses of a copyrighted work are considered to be more "fair" than others. The inclusion of an appropriate amount of copyrighted material for the purpose of news reporting, criticism, and parody, for example, often weighs in favour of fair dealing. The inclusion of copyrighted works that directly apply to or illustrate your educational activities may weigh in favour of fair dealing. Copyrighted works that provide aesthetic appeal or "entertainment value" in your ePortfolio may weigh against fair dealing.

How much of someone else's work are you including?

One of the five factors used in the determination of fair dealing is "the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole." It is less fair to copy a large or important part of a work. Using only that which illustrates the point would weigh more in favour of fair dealing.

Have you included proper citations to the work of others?

Can you make due with a link to the item, rather than uploading a copy, and bypass the question altogether? You should, of course, properly attribute your sources to avoid the appearance of plagiarism and to acknowledge the author of the work (moral rights). Be aware, though, that plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing.

Protecting Your Copyright

An original work created by a student is protected by copyright. At James Cook University , the student is considered to be the copyright owner unless the University claims ownership under the terms of its Intellectual Property Policy.

Indicating your copyright ownership

In Australia , there is no copyright application/registration form or any agency to advise to formalise your copyright ownership. Protection is automatic and you do not need to publish your work or put a copyright notice on it.

Nevertheless you can let users of your work know that it is copyright protected and that you are the copyright owner. The simplest method is to include the following information on any original works you create:

  • the copyright symbol ©

  • your name

  • the year of creation/publication of the work

  • your contact details and

  • any conditions of use you wish to impose.

"© Copyright - J. Bloggs - 2006
P.O. Box 1234 , Townsville , Queensland , 4810
All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission."

Traditionally, for hardcopy publications, the copyright notice appears on the inside of the front cover or within the first few pages of the publication. For material published electronically, it is common practice for the copyright notice to appear under its own heading, either at the start of the document or at the end.

Specifying conditions of use

When specifying "conditions of use" on a work, especially one which you do not intend to publish commercially, you should consider carefully what it is that you wish others to do if they want to reproduce your work, in full or in part.

You may want to give particular consideration to use by students, teachers and researchers. Under the "fair dealing" provisions of the Copyright Act, an individual will be able to make a single copy of a "reasonable portion" of your copyright work without payment or permission without infringing your rights provided it is for the purposes of research or study, criticism or review, parody or satire. Multiple copies of a reasonable portion of your work will also be able to be reproduced and communicated for teaching purposes by members of educational institutions under such arrangements as the statutory copyright licence schemes, subject to certain conditions and the payment of a licence fee to the relevant copyright agency.

When making your work available for marketing purposes, including to potential employers, you may want to clearly indicate how your work may be used by attaching a conditions of use statement to it. Some possible options for Conditions of Use statements include:

  • "No part of this site may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the specific written permission of the copyright owner first hand and obtained."

  • "Copying in excess of rights otherwise established under copyright law is permitted, without individual permission or payment of a fee, provided that copies are made or distributed for non-profit purposes and credit is given for the source. Abstracting with credit is permitted."

  • "Permission is hereby granted to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction at educational institutions provided that the article is used in full and this copyright notice is reproduced. Any other usage is expressly prohibited without the express permission of the copyright owner. "

  • "This publication is protected by copyright and may be used as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968 provided appropriate acknowledgement of the source is published."

If you are considering making material for which you personally own the copyright available on the web, you may wish to consider one of the Creative Commons Licences which are being developed for Australia . These enable you to grant a more liberal suite of permitted uses than is mandated by the Copyright Act. For more information, consult:

Assigning your copyright

Copyright owners can elect to assign their copyright to someone else, e.g. a publisher. Assignment means that ownership of the copyright is transferred. If you assign the copyright in your work to a publisher, unless otherwise negotiated, you will lose those rights but not your moral rights. In addition, you may later find yourself in a position where you must seek copyright clearance from the publisher to use your work elsewhere, and in some cases pay a fee for that use. Hence you should consider carefully whether you wish to assign your rights in this way.

Note that moral rights remain with an author, even though he or she may have assigned copyright in a work to someone else. Generally, moral rights will last as long as the copyright in the work concerned.

Licensing your copyright

If, instead of assigning your copyright to someone else, you license it, you can retain your copyright ownership while allowing the licensee the right to use your work in a particular way. For example, as a copyright owner you may license a company to publish your work in a hardcopy journal; if the publisher wishes to include the work in an electronic journal, they will need to negotiate with you, since you have retained ownership of the copyright in the work.

If you opt to license your work, do so in writing, in the form of a contract. Preferably legal advice should be sought.

Note that copyright can be licensed in various ways:

Exclusive licence
Under an exclusive licence the licensee is the only person who can use the work in the way covered by the licence. For example in a book publishing agreement, you might grant the publisher an exclusive licence to print and publish your novel; you are not entitled to license anyone else to publish the same novel during the period of the licence.

Non-exclusive licence
If you grant a non-exclusive right to do something with your work, you may continue to use your work in that way yourself and you can also grant other people non-exclusive licenses to use your work in that way. For example, if you granted a non-exclusive licence to a publisher to reproduce your illustrations in a book, you may also grant other publishers the same non-exclusive licence, and you may reproduce the illustrations yourself.

Implied licence
In some cases, permission from a copyright owner to use copyright material may be implied from the circumstances. This is the basis on which most "letters to the editor" are published in a newspaper - the publisher will in general be entitled to imply a licence from you to publish the letter.

If you submit work to a publisher on a speculative basis, you should take steps to ensure that the publisher does not go ahead and publish your work on the basis of an implied licence. To avoid this, you should include with any work you submit to a publisher on a speculative basis, a covering letter to the publisher outlining either the terms on which you are offering a licence to publish, or explaining that the work is submitted for the publisher's consideration only - if the publisher is interested, they should contact you to negotiate the terms.

Collection of royalties

Another issue you may want to consider as a copyright owner is becoming a member of a copyright collecting society such as the Copyright Agency Ltd, Screenrights or Viscopy. These societies represent the owners of various types of copyright works. They license or administer certain uses of copyright material, collecting and distributing fees for the use of copyright works.

The Australian Copyright Council

The Australian Copyright Council is a non-profit, member-based organisation whose objectives include assisting creators and other copyright owners to exercise their rights effectively. See the Council’s web site for more information.


The information provided in this document is intended as a general guide to JCU students on the copyright issues that relate to making works available through the ePortfolio. The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters.

While every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, James Cook University excludes any and all liability for any errors in or omissions from the information on this website or any third party website assessable from this website.
For information on copyright for James Cook University , please consult the James Cook University Copyright Pages.

The following sites were consulted as sources of information in creating this copyright guide.

Australian Copyright Council

Copyright at Curtin