Copyright and Fair Dealing
‘Fair Dealing’ is a term used to refer to acceptable use of a copyright-protected work. It is not, however, defined by the legislation and does not automatically grant permission to re-use parts of a work. Rather, it is a legal defence should the rightsholder claim an infringement has taken place.
Fair Dealing means the fair and reasonable copying of a work to benefit an individual or society, in a way which does not prejudice the commercial interests of the rightsholder.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 (CDPA) permits copying of a limited amount of a work for a number of purposes. Purposes include:
- Private study
- Non-commercial research
- Criticism or review
- Newspaper reporting
- Illustration for non-commercial instruction and examinations
Since June 2014, the provision has been extended to cover all types of copyright works – literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, as well as sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
To qualify as fair and reasonable copying, an ‘insubstantial’ amount of a work may be copied as long as no commercial gain is involved.
'Insubstantial' refers to both quantity and quality of the extract used. A small but otherwise significant part of a work, such as the key findings of a report or the central theme of a piece of work, may still be considered as 'substantial'. There are no set limits as to what constitutes 'substantial' and acceptable quantities will vary from one case to another.
Fair Dealing requires that you only copy as much of the work as is necessary for the purpose, and that any copying does not impact on the rightsholder’s legitimate exploitation of his/her work.
The word ‘research’ is not defined, but CDPA s.29 indicates that it may mean any form of research as long as its purpose is non-commercial.
Fair Dealing for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study will not cover the making of multiple copies.
The source of any extract copied under Fair Dealing must always be acknowledged.
Updated September 2015