Read the case study below and then answer the questions relating to the copyright issues of the five resources the learner is planning to use.



Things you need to know and think about when answering questions on 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.

case study

Case study

Completing a digital assignment on Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Entrance to Shakespeare's Birthplace sign-13Feb2005.jpg

Theresa Brown, is a first year, registered student taking a Media Studies course at the local university. She is preparing an assignment on Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She is required to publish the assignment online, and also to prepare a slide show with an audio summary. The university provides a hosted website for each of its students in the course, but access to the site is restricted to registered students taking the course who are provided with password access. A number of students do not have affordable access to the internet at home, so Theresa wants to include local copies of supporting resources she has found on the open web for download from the website that will only be accessible 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 published by The Guardian.)
  4. A local copy of the BLC production of Hamlet from Youtube.
  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 on a winning essay published by Penguin on the Signet Essay Competition site, openly accessible on the web.


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 (Aus) course. Note that for the purposes of this case study, Theresa is a fictitious character and has not published an essay on the [Signet Essay Competition site].

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.

key points

Key points

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