This is the "Introducing copyright" page of the "IHNA Copyright" guide.
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IHNA Copyright  

Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

Introducing copyright Print Page

Copyright, referencing and plagiarism

Copyright is the ownership of literature and the rules that govern and protect the rights of those who write copose pieces of writing and communication. As the Australian Attourney general's department put it: "Copyright is a type of property that is founded on a person's creative skill and labour." (Attourney-General's Department, 2011, 1st Paragraph)

No piece of intellectual property may be reproduced or copied without the consent of its owner, except under very specific circumstances and ander strict conditions that are defined in legislation.

Unorthorised copying or immitation of intellectual property is called plagiarism and is an offence under the Australian law. If a person or company commits plagiarism, the owner of the copywright may sue for damages. In addition, where commercial interests are involved, copywright infringement is a criminal offence. People or companies who plagiarise or infringe copyright in a commercial context may be fined large sums of money and sent to jail, noted by the Australian Copyright Counsil (2012).



Attourney-General's Department 2011, 'What is copywright', Attourney-General's Department: Acheiving a Just and Secure Society (Website), Australian Government, Canberra, ACT, viewed 2nd of October 2012, <>

Australian Copyright Counsil 2012, 'Infringement: Actions, Remedies, Offences & Penalties', Australian Copyright Counsil (Website), DesignRoyale, Ultimo, NSW, viewed 2nd of October 2012, <>



When do I need to cite?

A citation is required if...

  • You wish to write something that has previously been written or communicated somewhere else
  • You wish to write a phrase or group of words that has been used previously (that is, quote someone's words)
  • Your writing describes an idea, concept, theory or piece of information that is not common knowledge and has been written or communicated previously by someone else.

A citation is not required if...

  • You are writing something that you thought of yourself and is not from another document or piece of communication
  • You are writing something that is clearly common knowledge.

Using a citation does not make it legal or permissable to reproduce large parts of your source. Direct quotes should be kept as short as possible and should only be used where the phrasing has particular literary or oratory merrit. In the vast majority of cases it is better to paraphrase rather than quote.

Follow the link to see a flow chart you can use to determine whether a citation is required.



Fact Sheet

Here is a handy fact sheet about copyright, plagiarism and referencing that you can download and keep.


The websites listed below provide some useful information and represent organisations that deal with copyright and intellectual property in various ways.


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