Fair dealing

There are multiple exceptions to copyright, which allow people to use materials in certain ways as long as the use is considered fair. For students, the most valuable exception is fair dealing for research or study.

Australian copyright law permits users to make a fair dealing with copyright materials for certain purposes. If your use of copyright materials is covered by a fair dealing provision, you do not need the permission of the copyright owner before using the material, and the use is not an infringement of copyright.

Fair dealing for research or study

There is a copyright exception that allows users to copy reasonable portions of copyright materials for the purpose of research or study. A reasonable portion is generally considered to be 10% of the pages in a book, one chapter of a book, one journal article or a similar amount of another type of work.

In order to rely on the fair dealing exception for research or study, you must genuinely be copying material for your own study or research. If you are making copies to put together a set of resources relevant to one of your current courses, this would most likely be for the purpose of study or research. Similarly, assembling resources to help you write a research paper or assignment would most likely be for the purpose of study or research as well.

The exception is not available for teaching staff to make copies on behalf of students, and it is not available for students to make multiple copies of materials for distribution.

The exception is not available for materials appearing in publications. For more information about publishing your academic work, see Quoting materials in research.

Fair dealing for other purposes

There are other fair dealing exceptions beyond the exception for research and study. Fair dealings can also be made for the purposes of criticism or review, for parody or satire or for reporting the news.

In order to decide if a use for any of the above purposes is fair, you should consider the following factors:

  • The purpose and character of the dealing;
  • The nature of the work or adaptation;
  • The possibility of obtaining the work 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 work or adaptation; and
  • In the case where part only of the work or adaptation is reproduced, the amount and substantiality of the part copied taken in relation to the whole work or adaptation.

If, in your estimation, the use is fair and is for one of the outlined purposes, then the use is not an infringement, and you do not need permission from the copyright owner to make the use.

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