Disability Provisions

The Copyright Act includes two free exceptions that allow people and educational organisations to use copyright material to assist people with disabilities.

A person with a disability is anyone who suffers from a disability that causes them difficulty in reading, viewing, hearing or comprehending copyright material in a particular form. In practice, this includes anyone with a disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).

The University provides a range of services for students and staff to minimise the impact of disability or medical conditions on their ability to work and study.
Disability-related information, procedures and services for the University community is available from the University's Disability Hub.

Queries related to disability support for students should be directed to the Student Engagement Unit on 8302 8999 or

This exception can be exercised by a person with a disability or a person acting on their behalf to:

  • copy or communicate copyright material
  • make changes to the format of the material
  • add features to the material, if it is for the purpose of providing an accessible version to a person with a disability, and provided the dealing is 'fair'.

Before exercising this exception, the person dealing with the copyright material must take into account four factors in making a determination whether a particular use is 'fair'. The dealing must be 'fair' to avoid infringing copyright in the material that is being copied. The four factors which need to considered are:

  • The purpose and character of the dealing. This will be satisfied if the use is to assist a person with a disability to enjoy the copyright material.
  • The nature of the copyright material. Consider whether the material is in print and readily available, and whether it is published or unpublished.
  • The effect of the dealing upon the potential market for, or value of, the material. Does the proposed use unreasonably interfere with the copyright owner's exploitation of the material? If it does, the market harm it causes must be substantial for the proposed use to be considered unfair.
  • The amount and substantiality of the part taken compared to the whole material (if only part of the material has been copied). Consider how much of the original material has been taken. The more that is taken, the more likely it is to be unfair. However, a copy of the whole copyright material may be required by the person where the material is not available in the format required or with the necessary accessibility features.

This exception allows organisations to make accessible format copies and add features to them for the sole purpose of assisting a person with a disability provided the material is not commercially available in the required format. This exception replaces the provisions in the old educational statutory licence.

The 'new' exception is designed to be flexible to ensure copyright material can be converted into the best format available and with appropriate features to help a person with a disability enjoy the material. For example, scanning a book for use with assistive technology, making adjustments to the size and colour of graphs, tables or text, converting books into easy English, and providing audio descriptions.

NOTE: If the material is commercially available in a format suitable for assisting the person with their disability, then the University will be required to purchase a copy. If a copy of the work in a suitable format cannot be obtained within a reasonable time and at an ordinary commercial price, then the material is not deemed to be commercially available.

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