Fair dealing for research or study

Staff and students can copy literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work and audio-visual items without obtaining permission from the copyright owner for the purposes of research or study under the "fair dealing" provisions of the Copyright Act (the Act). There are some limitations and conditions outlined in the Act and these are discussed below.

What is considered research or study?

There is no defined meaning within the Act for the terms "research" or "study". However, case law on the subject suggests that these words have their dictionary meaning.

Australian Courts have referred to the Macquarie Dictionary which at the time defined research as “1. diligent and systematic enquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover facts or principles”. Study was defined as “1. application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation or reflection. 2. the cultivation of a particular branch of learning, science, or art: The study of law. 3. a particular course of effort to acquire knowledge: to pursue special medical studies…. 5. a thorough examination and analysis of a particular subject…”

How much can I copy for my research or study?

For the purpose of research or study the Act provides staff and students (or any other individual) can copy

  • 10% of the number of pages of a literary work, or one chapter of a work if it is divided into chapters. The work must be more than 10 pages long.

  • 10% of the number of words of a literary work if it is in electronic form.

  • One article from an issue/edition of a periodical publication such as journal or newspaper. More than one article can be copied if they relate to the same research or course of study

Copying for research or study in most cases only extends to making a single copy, for personal/individual use. The research or study provision cannot generally be relied upon to make multiple copies for teaching purposes or to make other people's copyright material publicly available.

What if I need to copy more than 10% or more than one article? Or, what if I need to copy unpublished material (such as certain theses), sheet music, artistic works or audio-visual items as part of my research or study?

You can copy an amount that is "fair". The Act provides the following factors to consider when determining if copying audio-visual items or literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works for research or study purposes is fair:

  • The purpose and character of the dealing

  • The nature of the item or adaptation

  • The possibility of obtaining the item or adaptation within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price

  • The effect of the dealing upon the potential market for, or value of, the item or adaptation

  • The amount and substantiality of the part copied taken in relation to the whole item or adaptation

An "audio-visual item" is a sound recording, a motion film or video, a sound broadcast or a television broadcast.