Copyright Infringement

This page gives guidance around copyright legislation and how it may apply to New Zealand schools. New Zealand’s copyright laws were updated in 2011 with the introduction of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act.

The wording of the new Act says it “provides rights owners with a special regime for taking enforcement action against people who infringe copyright through file sharing”. It is quite specific because it only applies to infringing material (protected by copyright) which is uploaded or downloaded via file sharing applications or networks. There are two concepts included in the legislation for the law to apply – first, the material has to be infringing, second the infringing material has to be file shared.

What does 'infringing' mean?

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to copy, play, share, distribute or adapt that work, or to permit anyone else to do it. If anyone else copies shares or distributes a copyright protected work, without the permission of the copyright holder, then they are infringing on the owner’s copyright. The Act relates to the uploading or downloading of a piece of work in a file sharing network that infringes the copyright in that work.

What is 'file sharing'?

In the law, file sharing is defined as

“where –
(a) material is uploaded via, or downloaded from, the Internet using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users; and
(b) uploading and downloading may, but need not, occur at the same time.”

The focus of The Act is primarily peer to peer (P2P) technologies that allow multiple people to share a file across the internet at the same time. When an infringing file (e.g. movie or music file) is uploaded or downloaded using this type of network or application the legislation has been contravened.

Not all file sharing is illegal. For example, if you create an original work, and choose to share it across a file sharing (peer-to-peer) network, then you are not breaking the law as you are the rights owner.

Examples of activity which contravenes the new law:

  • Using BitTorrent client software to download material protected by copyright.
  • Using peer-to-peer software to share files protected by copyright over a peer-to-peer network.

Examples of activity which does not contravene the new law:

  • Viewing media on web based streaming services (such as YouTube);
  • Participating in a video conversation using software which uses peer-to-peer technology (For example, Skype).
Can I use Youtube in my classroom?

Unless explicitly stated, all YouTube videos (and other online videos) are protected by copyright. Unless the video is licensed for re-use the videos may not be downloaded for use in the classroom unless the educational exemptions of the NZ Copyright Act apply.

However, you may play videos directly from YouTube in a classroom as long as they are part of a lesson, the audience is comprised only of students and teachers from your school, and no one has “paid” to be present when the video is played.

This exemption however does NOT enable teacher or student to re-post the video, or parts of the video (like a mashup) outside the classroom – including online, for example on YouTube or on a blog. This is because the educational exemptions to the Copyright Act do not extend to communicating/showing works publically, unless explicitly permitted to by copyright holders. Such works may only be used within the classroom.

Any work that is used must be acknowledged appropriately to avoid plagiarism.