Copyright case study

Read the case study below and then answer the questions on the subsequent pages of this learning pathway relating to the copyright issues of the five resources the educator is planning to use.

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Things you need to know and think about when answering the case study
  1. What copyright is and what it protects
  2. The activities which copyright prohibits
  3. The types of resources and materials copyright covers
  4. What the public domain is and when copyright works enter the public domain
  5. The duration of copyright
  6. Who owns copyright including who owns copyright in employment situations
  7. The rights of authors or copyright holders

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Case Study
Developing an online course for Shakespeare's Hamlet
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Theresa Brown, an English literature educator, is developing an online course on Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The course will be delivered using the learning management system (LMS) hosted by her education institution. Registered students are provided with password access for the LMS. A number of students do not have affordable access to the internet at home, so Theresa wants to include copies of resources in the LMS so they can be accessed through the institution's local network. She plans to include the following resources:
  1. The full text of Hamlet edited by Charles Kean who died in 1868.
  2. An image of the portrait of Hamlet, by William Morris Hunt (1824 - 1879) housed by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
  3. A digital copy of the Cobbe portrait of William Shakespeare recently discovered in March 2009. (See press release by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.)
  4. A copy of the BBC video providing an overview of the major themes of the play.
  5. Theresa has compiled a slide show with an audio summary which she will host on Slideshare. Her slide show was based on her own original research work drawing extensively on her article published in the Australian Humanities Review, an open access journal.


We suggest you write down your answers so you can check these against the self-assessment activities which follow. In each case, you should identify:

  • whether the resources are protected by copyright;
  • who owns the copyright; and
  • in your opinion, can Theresa include copies of these materials in her course without consent or permission from the copyright holder.

This case study was inspired by ideas in the Copyright 4 Educators (ZA) course. Note that for the purposes of this case study, Theresa is a fictitious character and has not published in the Australian Humanities Review.

Feedback and self assessment

On the pages which follow you will find copies of the case study questions with feedback and discussion on the options.

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Feedback on case study questions

Review your answers to each of the questions in the case study by completing the online quiz questions on the following pages: