Fair Dealing

The 'Fair Dealing' provisions in the Copyright Act are purpose based exceptions which allow individuals to copy a reasonable portion from a copyright work for a limited number of specified purposes without the need to obtain prior written permission from the copyright owner. Works copied under the 'Fair Dealing' provisions must only be used for the purpose for which they have been copied.

If a 'Fair Dealing' exception does not apply to the amount you wish to copy or to the way you wish to use it, permission must be obtained from the copyright owner to use copyright material in any of the ways in the copyright owner's exclusive control.

Copying for Research or Study (s.40, s.103C)

  • Communicating material for 'joint research'.
  • Copying an article for an individual student.
  • Copying material required for the preparation of a new course, book chapter or article you are writing.
  • Copying material for inclusion in an assignment, thesis or project you are submitting for assessment.

Note: You cannot rely on the Fair Dealing provisions for Research or Study to make multiple copies of copyright works or place material online for your students.

Criticism or Review (s.41, s.103A)

  • Copy material for a presentation to genuinely critique the material.
  • Communicate material where the purpose is to facilitate academic criticism and discussion.

Note: It is not sufficient that you copy a work merely to illustrate or explain your own work.

Parody or Satire (s.41A, s103AA)

  • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, as well as adaptations.
  • Audio-visual works (e.g. cinematographic films, sound recordings and broadcasts). If using material under this provision, you need to ensure that your use does not infringe the copyright in the underlying work.
  • The creator's Moral Rights not to have their work treated in a derogatory fashion.


Access by persons with a disability (s.113E)

The copying must be done by a person with a disability (or a person acting on their behalf), and the copying must be for the purpose of providing an accessible version of the copyright material to a person with a disability. 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
  • providing audio descriptions.

Reporting the News (s.42, s.103B)

  • The news must be reported in a newspaper, magazine (or similar periodical), cinematographic film or communication, and the work must be acknowledged.

Note: Musical works cannot be played as part of reporting news under this provision, unless the work forms part of the news being reported.

Judicial Proceedings or Professional Advice (s.43)

A legal practitioner or person registered as either a patent or a trademarks attorney may rely on this provision to copy a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purpose of judicial proceedings or giving professional advice.

You may rely on the Fair Dealing provisions to copy and use limited amounts of other people's material without permission from the copyright owner, and free of charge, for the following purposes:

  • Research or Study (s.40, s.103C)
  • Criticism or Review (s.41, s.103A)
  • Parody or Satire (s.41A, s103AA)
  • Reporting the News (s.42, s.103B)
  • Judicial Proceedings or Professional Advice (s.43)
  • Access by a person with a disability (Ss.113E)

Copying limits (print and electronic)

Literary, dramatic or musical (e.g. books, plays, scripts, conference papers, notated music)

  • For works published in print form, 10% of the number of pages, or one chapter if the work is divided into chapters. Applies only to works of more than 10 pages.
  • For works published in electronic form, 10% of the number of words, or one chapter if the work is divided into chapters. Applies only to works of more than 10 pages.
  • You may be able to copy up to the whole of the work if the work is out of print or is unavailable for purchase within a reasonable time. Please contact Ask The Library if you need to copy more than the given portions.

Articles from periodicals, journals, newspapers, magazines

  • For articles contained in a periodical publication, one article from each issue.
  • Two or more articles from the same issue may be copied if they are on the same subject.

The Copyright Act does not define what constitutes 'fair dealing' for:

  • artistic works (e.g. photographs, graphs, drawings, maps, cartoons)
  • audio-visual materials (e.g. tapes, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs)
  • anything which is not printed (e.g. a computer program or sound recordings)
  • unpublished material (e.g. manuscripts)
  • text or musical scores published in editions of less than 10 pages.

Before using or copying these materials, you will need to assess whether your use is 'fair', even if the amount you wish to use is only small (e.g. a stanza from a poem or a clip from a film or video). Please refer to the 'five factors of fairness' for further information

  1. The purpose and character of the dealing. For example, copying in connection with a course of study is more likely to be fair than copying for research which may be used commercially.
  2. The nature of the work. For example, it may be less fair to copy a work that has significant commercial value or which required a high degree of skill to create than a work with little or no commercial value or which required little skill to create.
  3. The possibility of obtaining the work within a reasonable amount of time at an ordinary commercial price. For example, it may be fair to copy the whole of a work which is out of print or not available in reasonable time, but unfair to copy the whole or part of a work which is available commercially.
  4. The effect of the dealing on the potential market for (or value of) the work. For example, making multiple copies of a work is less likely to be fair than making a single copy.
  5. The amount and substantiality of the part copied in relation to the whole work. For example, it may be less fair to copy a large or important part of the work than to copy a small or unimportant part.

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