Copyright and standards

Why standards are protected by copyright, what you can and can’t do with a standard, and how to get permission to use copyright content.

Why are standards copyright protected?

Standards New Zealand charges for access to standards to recover the cost of developing and maintaining New Zealand standards and to maintain our international memberships. Because we rely on the revenue from selling standards to continue developing new standards, protecting our copyright is paramount.

Copyright, or the exclusive right to copy, exists for all documents published by Standards New Zealand. When you purchase a Standards New Zealand document, in either electronic or hard-copy form, you are not entitled to make any further copies.

If you copy a standard without permission you are breaching copyright, which has serious legal consequences. Under the Copyright Act 1994 a person who infringes copyright may be liable to a fine of up to $150,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.

However, you can use material from a standard if you have a copyright licence from us that specifically allows you to do this. See ‘How to apply for a copyright licence’ FAQ below for more information.


Why is there a watermark on the standard?

A 'watermark' appears in the background of each page of all electronic standards as a reminder that the content is the copyright of Standards New Zealand. Text on the inside margin of each page provides a short summary of the conditions of your purchase and use of the standard.


May we show a link to a standard on our website?

Yes, you may refer to a standard's name and number, and include a link to our webpage where the standard can be purchased.


If I purchase a standard can I make it available on my website for the general public to use?

No. We rely on the revenue from selling our documents to continue developing new standards. We own the copyright in our standards and must protect that copyright. So you can’t make the standard available to others without our permission.

You may have come across a link to a standard available on an organisation’s website, such as a government department. From time to time we may enter into an arrangement with an organisation to allow access if the organisation covers the cost of sales. You will see a licence number and information about our permission on the standard itself and the organisation’s website page. If you don’t see a licence number please feel free to get in touch with us so we can make sure our rules are being applied fairly to everyone. 

You can contact us by emailing


I bought a PDF from your website. Can I copy it more than once?

No. As stated in the terms and conditions when you purchased it, you may only print one hard copy of a PDF document for your (or your company's) internal purposes.

We generally do not enter into copyright licensing agreements for multiple copies in lieu of sales, as part of our copyright pricing calculation is based on the volume of the standard being used. As such, annual licensing fees are unlikely to be more cost-effective than purchasing multiple copies for ongoing use (an exception to this is in our policy on copyright for education organisations [PDF, 341 KB]). However, if you only need copies for a short period of time or specific project, we are happy to consider such requests. Please see ‘How to apply for a copyright licence’ FAQ below.

If you need to have multiple people access an electronic copy of a standard you could consider a network licence or an Online Library subscription. Contact us at for more information.


May I photocopy a standard for other people?

No, you are not permitted to make copies. If you copy a standard without permission you are breaching copyright, which has serious legal consequences.

If you want permission to make a copy of a standard or part of a standard, please see ‘How to apply for a copyright licence’ FAQ below.


May I copy sections from a standard I've purchased for work/school/study?

It depends. When you purchase a Standards New Zealand document, in either electronic or hard-copy form, you are not entitled to make further copies yourself unless the licence conditions specifically allow for this. However, students and teachers may copy a limited amount in strictly controlled circumstances.

Section 44 of the Copyright Act 1994(external link) allows some copying for educational purposes, and the amount and process of copying depends on who does the copying (students, teachers, or the educational establishment itself) and how much they want to use.

It pays to check with us before you start copying any standards content. If you have any questions on what you can use from our documents please contact us by emailing

Please see our policy on copyright for education organisations [PDF, 341 KB] for more information.


Is it acceptable to refer to the contents of a standard in a presentation?

Yes, you can reference the standard by name, and also reference parts or sections of the standard to direct people to the right place (for example, ‘NZS 1234:2016 Name, Part 1, page 2, clause 1.2.3’). You do not need our permission for this. However, if your references go any further and reproduce content from the standard please check with us to make sure this is a fair use of our copyright. Email the details to


I bought a PDF of a standard and the watermark is obscuring a figure. Can you remove the watermark?

Please email details about your purchase (for example, your customer number), the standard, page number, and figure to We aim to correct the placement of the watermark as quickly as possible and we will provide you with a replacement PDF.


Is it legal to use Standards New Zealand or ISO/IEC logos?

You need permission to do this. Any use of any national or international standards organisations’ logos is strictly controlled and very limited. Requests must be made in writing including details of the purpose of use, placement, intended audience and so on. Please email

Please note, as we are a national standards body, not a testing or accrediting body, it is not appropriate to use our logo to show that you are accredited or certified and meet the technical requirements of a standard. You should contact your accrediting or certifying body directly to see if they have a mark you can use.


What's the difference between a hard copy, a PDF, an Online Library subscription, or a network licence?

  • A hard copy is the printed version of the standard. You can purchase this from us and we courier the physical printed document to you.
  • A PDF is the electronic format of the standard. You can purchase a PDF document and the file is immediately available to you. You may download it to a personal computer and are permitted to print one copy for your personal use.
  • An Online Library subscription is the ability to view a group or catalogue of standards online via our website's Online Library service for an annual subscription fee. An organisation can have its entire staff access the standards, but access is limited at any one time to a set number of concurrent users. Authorised users can print a temporary copy of a standard for their use. 
  • A network licence allows you to store a standard on your organisation's server for access by staff. You pay a network licensing fee for this service based on the total number of people who can access the standard.
  • Other access arrangements can be discussed as they may fall within a copyright licence agreement


How to apply for a copyright licence

If there is a document or a specific part of a document you wish to copy, you will need to seek our permission. This might be a page, paragraph, table, or figure you wish to use in a new work (such as a publication or presentation). There may be a fee to do this, and our fees depend on a number of factors.

So that we can provide you the best advice, please let us know:

  • the reference number of the standard or other document you wish to use. If it is not one of our publications, or is jointly published with Standards Australia, we may need some time to check your request with our overseas counterparts
  • which parts of the document you wish to use. Is it just one figure? Or several pages? 
  • what you will be using it for. Will it be used in a new publication, presentation, or newsletter? The more details you can provide about your work the better. It is helpful for us to fully understand the purpose of it – for example, if it is for educational purposes
  • how many copies of your work you will be making, or how many people will see it
  • the format of your work, whether it is electronic, intended for a website, or in hard copy only.

Please also let us know if there is a deadline you need to meet – we want to make sure we can provide you with the right advice in a timely way.

We will come back to you to let you know if your request can be approved, and what charge, if any, will apply.

If you decide to go ahead we will prepare a short licence document that clearly states what you can do under the licence (and what is not permitted), and provide you with some wording to use to acknowledge Standards New Zealand’s copyright and your licence to use it.

Please email your request to:
or via post to: Attn: Copyright, Standards New Zealand, PO Box 1473, Wellington 6140