Answered By: Jane Cooke
Last Updated: Apr 25, 2018     Views: 127

The law (Copyright Design and Patents Act,1988) permits the copying of copyright material for private study and research within certain limits. That permission is sometimes referred to as "fair dealing". The exact definition of what constitutes fair dealing is not certain but copying can only be made for non-commercial research or private study.

The broadly accepted guidelines for the amount of a work that may be copied under fair dealing permit the copying of:

  • one article from an issue of a journal
  • up to one chapter or 10%, whichever is greater, of a book
  • one poem or short story of up to ten pages from an anthology
  • one whole scene from a play 
  • one whole paper from a set of conference proceedings 
  • one whole report of a single case from a volume of judicial proceedings
  • or 10% of the total publication, whichever is the greater 
  • where a digital publication is not organised in a similar way to conventional printed items, you are advised to exercise your best judgement to copy reasonable extracts.

Copying is also permitted for purposes of criticism or review, but the amount copied is limited to a single extract of up to 400 words or a number of extracts, each of no more than 300 words and totally no more than 800 words.

The material must be published and the copy must be accompanied by adequate acknowledgement of it's source.

Copying, except for musical scores, is also permitted for examination questions.

Except with permission, no other substantial copying of copyright material is legally allowed.

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