Copying for research or study

What you can copy

Under the fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act you can copy limited amounts of copyright material for your research or study.

Examples of the copying you can carry out for research and study include:

  • copying research information for an assignment or a thesis
  • copying material to read as part of your course
  • copying articles for your research
  • assembling information to write a journal article
  • you do not have to be enrolled in a course – you can copy for private research or study

Under the research or study exception you cannot:

  • make multiple copies for distribution to your friends
  • load your assignment containing excerpts from a movie or sections of commercial music on MySpace or YouTube
  • put copies of book chapters or articles on a blog
  • copy material for teaching purposes
  • put material online for students
  • publish your work if it contains quotes from other people’s work

How much can I copy for my research or study?

You can copy a reasonable portion from a literary or dramatic work or form sheet music or a score.

A reasonable portion is defined as:

  • published hard copy literary, dramatic or musical works of more than 10 pages edition (excluding computer programs)
    10% of the number of pages in the work
    OR
    a single chapter if the work is divided into chapters
  • published electronic literary or dramatic works (excluding computer programs or electronic compilations such as databases)
    10% of the number of words in the work
    OR
    a single chapter if the work is divided into chapters
  • articles in periodicals
    a single article from an issue of a print or electronic periodical. You can copy more than one article if you need them for the same course or same research

Copying more than a reasonable portion

There may be occasions when you can copy more than a reasonable portion for research or study without infringing copyright. However, this is not defined in the Act. You have to consider the following five factors and then decide if the copying you wish to do amounts to fair dealing.

  Five factors to consider
Questions to ask
1.
Purpose and character of the dealing
Is the copying really for study or research?  If not your dealing is unlikely to be fair.

2.
Nature of the material It may be less fair to copy a highly complex work than a relatively simple one.
3.
Possibility of obtaining the material commercially
Is the material commercially available? If so, copying the entire work is unlikely to be considered to be fair dealing.
4.
Effect of the dealing upon the potential market for the material
Is the material commercially available? If so, copying the entire work is unlikely to be considered to be fair dealing.
5.
Amount copied in relation to the whole of the source material How much are you copying? It is more likely to be considered fair dealing if you copy a small or unimportant part than if you copy a significant or important part of the work.

Copying artworks, images, diagrams & photos

In the Copyright Act the category of artistic works includes the following:

  • paintings, drawings and engravings
  • images and diagrams
  • sculptures
  • photographs
  • buildings and models of buildings
  • maps and charts
  • craftworks such as mosaics, jewellery and textile art

Copying 10% of an image or artistic work doesn’t make sense in most cases so if you want to copy an artwork, image or diagram you need to consider the five factors before deciding if the copying amounts to fair dealing. If you feel your copying does not constitute fair dealing or is for commercial purposes you should seek the permission of the copyright owner.

Can I adapt an existing diagram for research or study?

It’s difficult to give a definitive answer as each case has to be judged on its merits.
It is likely that adapting an image or diagram for the purposes of research or study would not be an infringement of copyright. You need to remember the moral rights clauses of the Copyright Act and acknowledge the creator of the original work. Any modifications you make to a work should not adversely affect the reputation of the creator or subject the work to derogatory treatment.

If you are planning to use the adapted diagram in a publication you may need to obtain permission after applying the following guideline: if you put the original work and your derivative work side by side and can still identify important or substantial parts of the original work in your derivative work, then you should obtain permission to make the changes and publish your derivative work.

Copying DVDs & TV programs

The Copyright Act does not specify the amount you can copy from a film, DVD or TV program for your research or study.

The following points may be helpful:

  • you must consider the five factors before deciding if the copying you wish to do would be fair dealing
  • you may be able to rely on the research or study exception to copy part of a DVD or TV program for your research or study. This includes incorporating an excerpt in an assignment or project.
  • it is unlikely that copying an entire DVD that is available for purchase would be considered fair dealing under the research and study provisions.
  • if you plan to use the copy for other purposes such as a public screening public or entering your project containing excerpts from a DVD or TV program in a competition you would need to obtain permission from the copyright owners.

Copying CDs & sound recordings

The Copyright Act does not specify the amount you can copy from a CD or sound recording for your research or study.

Note the following guidelines:

  • you must consider the five factors before deciding if the copying you wish to do would be fair dealing.
  • you may be able to copy a limited portion a such as a single track from a CD under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act.
  • it is unlikely that copying an entire CD that is available for purchase would be considered fair dealing under the research and study provision.
  • under the Music Licence the University can copy and distribute CDs from the societies’ repertoires for educational purposes. Your lecturer may be able to provide your class with copies of CDs relevant to your course.
  • remember that the music industry takes a strong line on music piracy and is opposed to the copying of music. You can copy a CD that you own but this is only for your private and domestic use and not for your research or study.

Copying from the Internet

The Internet is not a copyright free zone – material on the Internet is protected by copyright just as print and other types of material are protected.

Some hints on copying Internet material for research or study may assist:

  • you can copy a reasonable portion of an electronic document
  • sometimes you may be able to copy more using the five factors test
  • always check the terms of use for the website to establish the range of use that the owner allows - you may find that the website owner allows you to copy more than the minimum amount under certain conditions

Downloading DVDs, TV shows & music from the Internet

Take care when downloading movies, TV programs and music from Internet sites for research or study:

  • many websites offering free downloads of current movies, TV programs and music are illegal sites which infringe copyright. The material has been included on the site without the permission of the copyright owners and downloading copies from these websites is likely to be a breach of copyright.
  • only download movies and music from websites where you are sure that the material has been made available legitimately. Legitimate or licensed websites will usually charge a fee for downloading or clearly indicate that the copyright owner has authorised sharing of the material through the terms of use or a specific licence such as the Creative Commons licence.
  • remember that use of file sharing sites can be tracked and that recently in the US individual students have received notice of legal action for downloading music unless they pay substantial royalties to music copyright owners.
  • the University’s Policy on the Use of Information and Communication Technology Resources (PDF) prohibits the use of University ICT resources to download and store copyright material which is not properly licensed. The University reserves the right to monitor and track the use of its resources. Penalties can be imposed for improper use of University ICT resources, including loss of access to ICT resources, suspension of candidature and disciplinary action.
  • This Digital Content Guide is a place to find digital services that provide Australians with access to licensed music, movies, TV shows, games, eBooks and sport. On the site you can find information about different services and you can click through directly to them. Australians have a wide choice of licensed digital content services across different devices and platforms. The choices continue to grow. This site is designed to help you easily find the content you want from a licensed service.

Using electronic resources and databases

Use of electronic journals and databases subscribed to by the University Library is usually governed by the terms of contracts signed by the University. These contracts often override the Copyright Act although the amounts you can copy are similar to those specified in copyright legislation.

Generally, you will be able to print and download the material that you need for your research or study. Excessive downloading of material is not permitted by vendors who frequently monitor use of their databases.

When you access a database from the Library’s website you will be asked to accept the usage conditions for the Library’s electronic resources. A summary of the terms of conditions of use for each database is available from the Electronic Resources – databases section of the Library website.

Need more information?

The Australian Copyright Council has a number of useful information sheets on the fair dealing exceptions and research or study – see the information sheets entitled Fair Dealing and Research or Study for an overview of the main issues.

Note that copying for research or study is not the same as copying for Private and domestic use is not necessarily the same as copying for Research or study. There are some significant differences in the amounts you can copy and the use you can make of copies produced.