Getting the copyright right for Creative Arts

Copyright can be complex.  In a CD, there is often separate copyright in the song, the lyrics, the performance and the recording. In films, typically there are many layers of copyright.

At the beginning of any creative project, make sure you get the copyright right. Generally all participants should hand over (assign) their copyright (or provide a sufficient licence) for the project's immediate, foreseeable (and sometimes future possible) requirements through agreements or consent forms.  This should be done in a manner where the interests of all participants are recognised particularly where indigenous peoples are involved.

Problems can occur because of a lack of clarity between participants on copyright ownership and rights at the start of a project. Therefore in most cases it's important that copyright ownership and rights are properly formalised at the beginning.  Contact the Information Policy Officer for advice.

Do I need permission to include material belonging to others in creative projects?

It depends on what the work is, where it comes from, and what you want to use it for.

Generally you may not use images, video clips, music or other material (you source from the internet or elsewhere) in creative projects you intend to show in public or put on the internet unless:

  • the copyright has expired.
  • the "Terms and Conditions" of the website where you sourced the material permit you to use the material in the manner you want.
  • you have found material with a creative commons licence that is suitable for your intended use
  • you are only creating a link or an embedded link to other material (such as a YouTube clip on your blog).
  • you have used an insignificant portion of the material or you are directly criticising or reviewing a fair dealing of the material.  (Contact the Information Policy Officer for assistance.)
  • you have got permission or a licence from the copyright owner for your intended use.

Remember to reference the material you use.  Contact the Information Policy Officer for assistance.

How to find creative commons material

Find Creative Commons images, videos and music you can use for your projects on CC Search.  (If you click both boxes below the search bar before you begin your CC Search, you will find material you can both adapt and use commercially - as this material will have either a CC BY or CC BY SA licence.)  Remember to reference the CC material you use.

Publishing a thesis or creative work on Griffith Research Online?

See: When can I include images in my Creative Arts Thesis for Publication by Griffith? or Can my Creative Work be published by Griffith?

Need help?

Advice and support

The Information Policy Officer provides copyright advice and training across Griffith University for staff and students. Contact the Information Policy Officer by emailing or phoning (0)7 3735 5695.

  • Reading List Service digitises and makes readings available online for students through Learning@Griffith in a copyright compliant way.
  • The Library assists with supplying movies and TV material for teaching in a copyright compliant way.
  • Griffith Enterprise advises on ownership and development of potentially commercial copyright, inventions and other IP created by staff and students.

Common questions