This is a sample essay that I use to teach APA Style referencing. It’s a couple of years old now, and recent changes to copyright law mean that some of the information here is incorrect or out of date. However, the aim of the essay is not to be factually accurate, but to showcase good APA Style referencing, which I think I’ve done.

Copyright, Fair Use, and Fair Dealing in Australia

Copyright – the legal protection granted to original authors, artists, musicians, and other creators – was first enacted in 1710 in England by Queen Anne (‘Copyright’, 2002). This law gave authors, rather than publishers or printers, exclusive rights to copy or make derivative works from their books (CrashCourse, 2015). In the late 18th Century, the United States of America included the ’Intellectual Property Clause’ in the Constitution (CrashCourse, 2015), granting Congress the power to “[p]romote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (U.S. Const. art 1, §8, cl. 8). Initially, copyright lasted 14 years, but, after numerous revisions and amendments, has since been extended to the life of the author with an additional 70 years, and the scope of the legislation has been expanded to include many different types of works (CrashCourse, 2015).

However, copyright law also has some limitations. For example, one is generally unable to copyright a name (trademark laws may apply) or an idea, as copyright only protects the expression of ideas (through writing, recording, or otherwise documenting them) (The University of Sydney, 2009). There are also certain instances –  exemptions – where a person may use another’s copyrighted work without permission. Under US law, the ‘fair use’ exemption allows for copyrighted material to be used, without permission, for criticism or commentary, parody or satire, news reporting, scholarship, or art (Electronic Frontier Foundation, n.d.).

Australian law has a similar exemption, called ‘fair dealing’, however it is narrower in scope that its US counterpart (Kallenbach & Middleton, 2015; Australian Copyright Council, 2014a), and there has been recent attention given to the idea of expanding it to bring Australia into line with the US (Turner, 2014). The Australian Copyright Council (2014b) claims that while the United States fair use exemption is flexible and open to interpretation – and deliberately so (CrashCourse, 2015) – Australia’s fair dealing exemption is clearer and the law more easily applied (Australian Copyright Council, 2014b). The narrow scope of fair dealing in Australia is claimed to be too rigid or inflexible, that it limits innovation, that copyright law in Australia is biased in favour of larger, wealthier publishers, and that it can’t meet changing consumer or technological demands (Australian Copyright Council, 2014b).

Copyright is a nuanced and complex area of law within the larger context of intellectual property law (CrashCourse, 2015). While it nominally grants exclusive rights to creators of original content, it is not without limits and exceptions – most notably fair use or fair dealing – which are the subject of recent investigations and debates in Australia.



Australian Copyright Council. (2014a). Fair dealing: What can I use without permission? Retrieved from

Australian Copyright Council. (2014b). Fair use & the ALRC Inquiry. Retrieved from

Copyright. (2002). In Dictionary of British history. Aylesbury, United Kingdom: Market House Books.

CrashCourse. (2015). Copyright basics: Crash course intellectual property 2. Retrieved from

Electronic Frontiers Foundation. (n.d.). Fair use frequently asked questions. Retrieved from

Kallenbach, P. & Middleton, A. (2015). 50 shades of infringement: Fan fiction, culture and copyright. Retrieved from

Turner, A. (February 19, 2014). Why deny US-style Fair Use copyright laws to Australians? The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

University of Sydney. (2009). What is copyright? Retrieved from

U.S. Const. art. 1, § 8, cl. 8.


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