All campus libraries are now closed. The online Library is available and you can get help via Library Chat. We'll post updates regarding Library services here and on social media (bottom right of this page).

Try our new beta search

Try our new beta search


Use AUT articlelinker to find fulltext articles available through the library.

Copyright for researchers

Using works created by others

Works created by others and published in books, journals, magazines, news, websites and social media are copyright.

Copyright is intellectual property that automatically comes into being when an original work is created. The Copyright Act (1994) governs copyright in New Zealand and defines the length of copyright protection, ownership, which rights may be transferred or sold, and what qualifies as copyright infringement.

If you are using material in your research that was created by others (e.g. images, tables, graphs, large parts of text, poems) in your research paper, dissertation, thesis or blog post, you may need to ask permission from the copyright owner. The easiest way to ask permission is to use a copyright licence letter.

Public domain

Works in the public domain are those where the copyright has expired or where copyright statements show “out of copyright” or “No known copyright restrictions”. You are free to use or reproduce these without seeking permission.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licences give users permission in advance to use works for uses specified in the licence. Each of the six available licences has a different mix of permitted uses and most ask that you attribute the creator.

Not sure who the copyright owner is?

  • Look for a copyright statement, terms and conditions of use webpage, artist name, website owner name.
  • Follow instructions for gaining copyright permissions from academic journals
  • Do a reverse image search with or Google Image search.

If you can’t find a copyright owner or get no reply, use an alternative.

Copyright and your own research

You automatically own copyright to your own research outputs. When signing a publishing agreement/copyright transfer agreement consider the following:

  • Retain copyright where you can. We suggest you retain basic rights to deposit your research in your institutional repository, reuse the content of your research for future publications and use your research for teaching and presentations. Use the SPARC Author Addendum form to retain your rights when negotiating with a publisher.
  • Most journals will allow authors to publish pre-prints or post-prints version of articles in open access institutional repositories like AUT’s Tuwhera, which means you can have your research outputs in Tuwhera AND a journal without breaching copyright. Just make sure this is covered in your publishing contract.
  • If you incorporate your own publications in your thesis, ensure that the journal you are publishing with allows you to do so. This should be included in the copyright transfer agreement you sign with the publisher.
  • Avoid publishing with a predatory journal. Use Think, Check, Submit to help you identify a trusted journal that will provide genuine editorial services and make your publication discoverable.


  • Patents protect your original inventions allowing you to benefit from making, using or selling them.