Answered By: Karen Crinnion
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2016     Views: 55

"Fair dealing" is an exception under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act which allows a certain amount of copying for purposes of "research or private study". Very briefly, "fair dealing" is understood as:

  • A chapter of a book, or 5% of a book, whichever is the longer
  • One complete article from a single issue of a journal
  • A maximum of ten pages of a poem, short story, or other short literary work, taken from a volume of short stories or poems
  • Up to 10% (maximum 20 pages) of a pamphlet, report or pamphlet
  • One separate illustration, diagram, photograph or map up to A4 size. However, if the illustrations form an integral part of an article or chapter, they may be included as part of that extract

You may also copy from any type of work for the purposes of criticism or review (e.g. in an essay, article or thesis) provided that you acknowledge the source. The Act does not define the extent of copying permitted in this case but the generally accepted limits are:

  • In the case of one extract, no more than 400 words
  • In the case of several extracts from a single work, that none of them is more than 300 words long, and that the total is no more than 800 words
  • In the case of a poem, up to 40 lines

Although not established in law, it is generally accepted that the principle of fair dealing applies to electronic works as well as to printed works. However, any copies made must be for personal use, and should not be distributed electronically (e.g. by uploading onto a server) or as printed copies without permission from the copyright holder.

You can find this information in our Copyright library guide (see link below)

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