Simpsons Solicitors

Exam Stress

November 29th 2011

A recent end-of-year exam set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) has raised some interesting copyright issues for writer and columnist Helen Razer.

The Age reports that the VCAA used an article written by Razer in one of its English exams, made several modifications to the text and attributed the article to a “Helen Day” and not the real author. VCAA’s edits to the article substituted words and changed the flow of the original piece and the author has taken issue with this use of her work.

Unless an exception applies, a person planning to reproduce a news article in their own work would seek permission from the copyright owner (often the author or newspaper in which the article appeared). An exception in Australian copyright law allows material to be reproduced without permission if done as part of an examination question, however, even if this exception covers any potential copyright issues, it does not cover the author’s moral rights in the article.

Creators of written, musical and artistic works have several moral rights in addition to copyright in their works, which include the right not to be falsely attributed as well as the right to not have their work treated in a derogatory manner – particularly if this causes some harm to the reputation or honour of the creator.

While it is usually the answers to an exam that are given close scrutiny, in this case the questions themselves have become the focus and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

To read more about this story go to: http://www.copyright.org.au/news-and-policy/details/id/2024/

For inquiries relating to publishing and copyright law please contact Adam Simpson.

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