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Academic & Research Integrity

A guide to help students, researchers and lecturers with Academic integrity and research ethics.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property. It is a legal right that automatically arises when an original work is created, for example an artwork, literary work, musical work, film or sound recording. The creator of a work is usually the copyright owner with exclusive rights in relation to their work.  

The Copyright Act of 1994 governs copyright in New Zealand. The Act defines the duration of copyright protection, ownership of copyright, which rights may be transferred or sold, and what qualifies as copyright infringement. Each time you use a work that is in copyright you must seek permission from the copyright owner.

New Zealand Copyright Legislation

New Zealand Legislation is available from the following website: 

Relevant Copyright legislation:

Copyright Act 1994

Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011

Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008

As a Student at AUT you...

  • are required to abide by the Academic Integrity Code of Conduct.

  • must reference others’ work quoted within your text to avoid plagiarism.

  • may copy any material for use in your internal assignments with correct references.  

  • own the copyright in original work you create.

  • must ensure you have permission from the copyright owner for all third party copyright material when depositing your research into AUT’s repository, Tuwhera.

Third Party Copyright material

Third party copyright material is material in any format to which another person or entity holds the rights. If you wish to include any substantial portion of such material in your research, for example an artwork or photograph, you should obtain the permission of the copyright holder.

If you are planning to use third party material in your research paper, dissertation, thesis or blog post you must ask permission from the copyright owner, unless it is a public domain work or openly licensed under a creative commons licence. The easiest way to ask permission is to use a copyright licence letter, a template can be found on the library website.

Not sure who the copyright owner is?
  • Look for a copyright statement, terms and conditions of use webpage, artist name, website owner name.
  • Do a reverse image search with or Google Image search
  • Use an alternative image.


Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons  is a not for profit organization that offers free licences to enhance the use and sharing of creative works. These licences enable authors to control how their works can be used but also allow for the sharing of resources and works in certain ways.

There are six different copyright licence options through Creative Commons - each of these allow different types of use of the specified work. To view these licences and to see what each allows, visit the CC website:

Creative Commons Licences

Copyright FAQs

Q. I found an image from a UK website that may be out of copyright. Does NZ or UK copyright law apply?

A. Best practice is to abide by the copyright terms of the place where the original work was created. UK    

     copyright duration is 70 years from the end of the year the creator died. 


Q. I found an image on Facebook. Can I use it in my thesis?

A. Yes, if you have permission from the copyright holder.


Q. I have taken an image with artworks shown in the background, but they are not the main focus. Can I use this without asking permission?

A. Yes there is an exception in the Copyright Act that allows this.


Q. I found an image on an old blog site that I want to use in my thesis. I have contacted the blog site owner but I have had no response. What do I do now?

A. You must have permission to use an image in your thesis. Find an alternative image.


Q. I have found some drawings in a book published over 100 years ago. There is no mention of who the artist is. The book is now out of print. Can I use it?

A. Yes, it will mostly likely be out of copyright if it is over 100 years old.


Q. I have taken frame grabs from a film to use in my thesis. Can I use them?

A. Yes, you can use them without permission if they are for the purposes of criticism and review, OR you have permission from the copyright holder.