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Copyright Exceptions

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 allows a number of exceptions to the infringement of Copyright.  Revisions to the law in June 2014 have permitted these exceptions to be extended to recognise changes in practice in the digital age. The revisions are noted below.

Research and Private Study

CDPA s. 29 permits Fair Dealing use of a work for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study.  Since June 2014 the provision covers all types of copyright works – literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, as well as sound recordings, films and broadcasts.

See also Fair Dealing.

Quotation for Criticism or Review

 CDPA s. 30 provides a Fair Dealing exception which permits the use of a work for the purpose of criticism and review if:

  • the work has been made available to the public
  • the use of the quotation is ‘fair dealing’ with the work
  • the extent of the quotation is ‘no more than is required’ by the specific purpose for which it is used
  • the quotation is accompanied by ‘sufficient acknowledgement’ (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise).

Since October 2014 this section of the law has been amended to give people greater freedom to quote the works of others for purposes additional to ‘criticism, review and news reporting,’ as long as these purposes are reasonable and fair.

See also Fair Dealing.

Accessible Copies for Disabled Users

CDPA 31A-31F allow a disabled person, or someone on their behalf, including an FE or HE institution, to make accessible copies of a work for a disabled person if it is for his or her personal use.  The disabled person or the institution must already have a legitimate master copy (bought or borrowed) and a suitable accessible copy of the work must not be commercially available at a reasonable cost.

Colleges and universities may also make multiple copies for disabled learners where the author of the work is acknowledged, and a statement is included that the copies are made under s.31B of the CDPA.

Since 2014, this provision has been widened to cover all impairments which prevent equal access, and all types of copyright work.

Accessible copies can be requested from the University’s Alternative Format Suite (AFS).  Please see the AFS website for more information.

Illustration for Instruction (including Examination)

CDPA s.32 allows all types of copyright works to be copied for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction.  This means that extracts from texts, music and artistic works, as well as from films, sound recordings and broadcasts, can be used to illustrate a teaching point.  The exception is subject to Fair Dealing, so copying is limited to what is required for the purpose, and must not impact on the rightsholder.

Copying can now be done not only by hand but by using digital technology such as interactive whiteboards (June 2014).  Copying must be done by a person giving or receiving instruction, and is not limited to copying in educational establishments.

The copying must be for a non-commercial purpose, and must be sufficiently acknowledged.

Illustration for instruction includes copying for the purpose of examination.  The law requires staff setting examination papers to include sufficient acknowledgement of the copied material where practicable, but students answering questions in exams are not required to do so.  Copying for examination is subject to Fair Dealing, so the use of the extract must be fair.  This may mean limiting copying to shorter extracts where possible, and restricting access to the works used to those being examined.

See also Fair Dealing.

Copying and Use of Extracts by an Educational Establishment

CDPA s.36 permits colleges and universities to make copies of extracts of all types of copyright works except broadcasts and standalone artistic works such as single images, provided the copy is made for the purposes of instruction for a non-commercial purpose and is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement.

Not more than 5% of a work may be copied by or on behalf of an educational establishment in any period of 12 months.

Unlike Section 32 (Illustration for Instruction), this exception can only be used by educational establishments.

The exception also only applies where there is no licence available for the work which the educational establishment should have known about e.g. a CLA Licence or an ERA Licence.

Exceptions for Libraries and Archives

 A range of provisions are made for libraries and archives:

  • CDPA s. 41 permits libraries to make and supply a copy of a journal article, or the whole or part of any published work, to another library.  All types of published works are now covered, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
  • CDPA s.42A allows a librarian to copy a reasonable proportion of a published work for staff or students without infringement.  Users must provide a copyright declaration form confirming that the use is non-commercial.  Single copies of the whole or part of unpublished works can be provided under similar restrictions (CDPA s. 43) except where this has been prohibited by the copyright owner.  All types of copyright works are now covered, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
  • CDPA s. 42 permits an institution to make replacement or preservation copies of items in its permanent collection, provided it is not reasonably practicable to purchase a copy.  All types of copyright works are now covered, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
  • CDPA s.40 also allows educational establishments (publicly accessible libraries, museums or archives) to make works available via dedicated terminals on their premises as long as the work has been lawfully acquired, is being consulted for research or private study, and is made available in compliance with any relevant licence.

Text and Data Mining

CDPA s.29A enables UK researchers to copy a work in order to analyse it using text and data mining technologies without risk of infringement, as long as

  • the analysis is for the purpose of non-commercial research
  • the researcher already has lawful access to the copyright work in question.


Sources consulted in the compilation of this summary:


Updated August 2017