Copyright is infringed when copyrighted material is used without permission, and an exception to copyright does not apply.
Infringements can take place by using the whole or part of a work if the part is ‘substantial’ in copyright terms. If you use part of a work that resulted from sufficient skill and effort, you can infringe copyright even if it is not a proportionally large part.
You don’t necessarily avoid infringement by making changes to another person’s content: the question is whether you have appropriated something that resulted from someone else’s skill and effort rather than the skill and effort you have added.
You can also infringe copyright by:
- authorising or facilitating an unlicensed use by someone else
- importing articles containing infringing copyright material
- selling infringing articles
The Copyright Act includes exceptions to infringement that allow some uses of copyright material without permission. Some of the exceptions do not require payment (free exceptions) and some do (statutory licences).
You should always seek legal advice before relying on any such exception.
For more information about infringements, the Australian Copyright Council publishes information sheets and detailed guides, offers a legal advice service and runs an annual training program. Information sheets include: