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Using Information Responsibly for Your Assignments: Copyright

What is Copyright?

Copyright protects scholarly research and publishing as one area of intellectual property, the others being trade marks and patents.

Copyright relates to the rights given to creators for their original works such as books, newspapers, computer programs, databases, films, sound recordings, paintings, photographs, sculpture, broadcasts, cable programmes and the typographical arrangement of published editions. The original creators hold the exclusive right to use or authorize others to use their work including its reproduction, public performance, recording, broadcasting, translation and adaptation.

Copyright is an automatic right. An original work of creation, whatever its aesthetic value or size or format (print, electronic etc.), is protected by copyright as soon as it exists.

Copyright law should maintain a balance between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of the society to have access to information for its cultural and economic development. The Copyright Ordinance (Cap.528) of Hong Kong provides certain limited exemptions to copyright for learning. Subject to conditions, "fair dealing" of a work for research or private study; criticism, review or news reporting is permitted. "Fair dealing" is not strictly defined but is determined by three factors: purpose and nature of the dealing (e.g. for study and research); nature of the work (e.g. a poem, a feature film etc).; amount and substantiality of the portion dealt with in relation to the work as a whole (e.g. a whole poem, one minute of a feature film etc.).

Infringement of copyright is a serious offence and may lead to civil remedies or even criminal sanctions. Copyright infringement by members of the CUHK community, such as excessive downloading of electronic content, violates local laws and University licence agreements and will subject the user to University sanctions. (Library regulations)

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