Copying for students with disabilities

This section gives information for University staff on providing educational resources to students with disabilities.

The Copyright Act allows the copying of copyright material into accessible formats for students with disabilities under the following provisions:

Students such as those with a print or intellectual disability have dedicated sections in the Copyright Act which meet their needs.
There are no specific provisions in the Copyright Act to cover reproduction and communication for students with the following conditions:

  • deafness or hearing impairment
  • physical disability
  • specific learning disability
  • psychiatric disability
  • acquired brain injuries
  • chronic medical conditions
  • temporary disability

Before copying material for students with these conditions, check the following to establish which section of the Copyright Act could apply.

Print disability provisions

The University is classed as a print disability organisation under Part VB of the Copyright Act and is permitted to use the print disability provisions in the Act to copy and communicate literary and dramatic works to assist students with such a disability.
Currently the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) does not charge a fee for copying and communication of material to students with a print disability.

The University may be required to report details of this copying and communication during a monitoring period under the CAL agreement but you will be advised if this occurs.


What is a print disability?

The Copyright Act defines a person with a print disability as:

  • a person without sight
  • a person whose sight is severely impaired
  • a person unable to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move their eyes
  • a person with a perceptual disability such as dyslexia.

If you are not sure if a student is eligible, contact Disability Services.


What can be copied and communicated?

Literary and dramatic works can be copied into the following accessible formats:

  • Braille
  • large-print
  • photographic – note this is not the same as a photocopy
  • electronic versions
  • sound recordings.


These materials cannot be copied

There are some significant categories of material that cannot be copied and these may cause problems for some students:

  • sheet and notated music
  • artistic works including graphs and diagrams that accompany text (but you can create a text description of the image)
  • unpublished material such as conference papers
  • audio-visual materials such as DVDs and television programs
  • computer programs.

The special case exception, s200AB, may permit copying in some circumstances.


What use can be made of material copied under the print disability provisions?

  • material must be copied solely for the purposes of assisting a student with a print disability, therefore access should be restricted to such students
  • a student with a print disability can use this material for any purpose – private and personal use as well as research or study
  • the University does not copy material for recreational reading
  • material copied under this section may not be sold for profit.


How much can be copied?

  • all or part of a literary or dramatic work, provided a new copy of the work is not commercially available in the required format in a reasonable period of time.

If the material is available in the required format, you cannot go ahead with the copying. For example, if a student asked you to make a large print version of a text book that was already available for purchase in large print format, you could not copy the work.


Do I need to mark the copies I make?

  • under the current agreement between the University and CAL, you do not have to mark the hard copies you supply to students (however, the author and title of all works copied should be clearly identified)
  • if material is made available online or emailed to students, a Part VB Warning Notice must be displayed with the material or included in the body of the email
  • sound recordings provided to students must include the following message:

This is a sound recording made on [day on which the recording was made] in reliance on section 135ZP of the Copyright Act 1968.


Making master copies

The print disability provisions also allow the University to make master copies of literary or dramatic works that can be used to make further copies for individual students or to provide a copy to an organisation assisting persons with a print disability.

Special rules apply to the making of master copies which have to be marked with a particular form of notice. The University is required to notify CAL of all master copies made within three months of the copy being made.

The University does not currently make use of the master copy provisions due to lack of student numbers. However, if the need arises, contact for information on the procedures required.

For additional information on copying for students with a print disability, see the Australian Copyright Council’s Copyright guidelines for people with a print disability (PDF).

Intellectual disability provisions

These provisions in the Copyright Act allow the University to copy and communicate copyright works to assist students with an intellectual disability. The Copyright Act does not provide a definition of an intellectual disability, so you should contact Disability Services if you believe a student fits into this category.

If you subsequently need to copy material under this provision, contact the for specific information.


Education statutory licence provisions

Students with disabilities may be able to utilise course work materials copied and communicated under the statutory licence provisions of the Copyright Act, Parts VA and VB. There are variations in the amounts that can be copied and the administrative requirements between these sections and the print disability provisions.

Note the following general points about the use of Part VA and VB:

  • material can only be copied and communicated for educational purposes
  • a Part VA or Part VB Warning Notice must be displayed when material is made available online
  • online access must be limited to University of Sydney staff and students
  • all enrolled students of the University of Sydney can access the material - use is not restricted to students with any particular disability.

Using Part VA

  • Part VA covers copying and communication of radio and TV broadcasts received in Australia as well as podcasts and vodcasts broadcast in Australia by free-to-air stations
  • under Part VA you can change the format of off-air recordings, stream recordings via learning management systems and make compilations of different programs
  • Part VA does not cover the copying and streaming of purchased DVDs
  • the special case exception, s200AB, may permit copying and streaming in some circumstances.

Using Part VB

  • Part VB covers the copying and communication of literary, dramatic and musical scores
  • under Part VB only one chapter from a book can be copied and communicated unless the book is not commercially available
  • this means that Part VB cannot be used if a disabled student needs to have a complete book, that is available for purchase, copied into an alternate format
  • only one article from an issue of a journal can be copied – more if they are on the same narrow subject. However, many journals are available in full electronically, so this would be a better option to suggest.
  • many items set for course reading are available in electronic format which can be accessed and manipulated by students with a disability. For more information, see Course readings & Reserve.

Research or study provisions

Under the fair dealing provisions for research or study (s40) in the Copyright Act, students can copy limited amounts of copyright material for their research or study without obtaining the copyright owner’s permission.

A reasonable portion from a literary or dramatic work, sheet music or a score can be copied. This is defined as:

  • in the case of a published book - a single chapter if the work is divided into chapters OR 10% of the number of pages in the work
  • a single article from an issue of a print or electronic journal – more if the articles are needed for the same research or course

Fair dealing usually involves an individual making a single copy themselves for their own use. For more information, see Copying for research or study. However, the Australian Copyright Council takes the view that it is permissible under the fair dealing provisions for another person to act as an agent and carry out the copying for a student with a disability: see part 3 of the ACC Copyright guidelines for people with a print disability

Library copying provisions

Section 49 of the Copyright Act allows a library to make copies of material to supply to users. This section can be used by students with a disability when they are unable to make copies of material themselves. The items to be copied can be located in the University Library collection or the request can be passed on to another library to fulfil.

This section has some conditions and limitations:

  • copying is restricted to journal articles and published literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works held in the collection of a library or archive
  • material copied can only be used for research or study
  • the student must make a written or email request to the library
  • usually only a reasonable portion from a published work can be copied (one chapter or 10% of the pages from a book – more if the work is not commercially available)
  • a single article from an issue of a periodical – more if needed for the same research or course
  • copies can be delivered to the user in electronic format.

Students with disabilities can make use of this provision if they are unable to carry out their own copying – see the Library’s assistive services page.


Format shifting exceptions

These exceptions in the Copyright Act allow individuals to copy some types of material that they own into different formats for private and domestic use.
Students can copy the following types of works into different formats as long as they own the original item:

  • books, newspapers and magazines – sections from books or newspapers can be scanned and stored on a hard drive of the computer for personal use
  • photographs – hard copy photographs can be transferred to electronic format and vice versa
  • videocassettes – can be copied into electronic format such as DVD.

Some limits apply:

  • the original must be a legitimate copy - it cannot be a pirate or illegal copy
  • the copies cannot be sold, lent or given away
  • multiple copies in a similar format cannot be made, either from the original copy or from later copies that have been made
  • copying computer games is not permitted
  • copy protection measures attached to original copies cannot be removed or circumvented to make copies.

Remember this is an individual right for private and domestic use only. It does not apply to organisations or to commercial use of material.

Private copying of music

Under s109A of the Copyright Act, individuals can copy a sound recording or CD that they own into another format for their own private and domestic use. This exception could be useful for students with a disability.

Sequential copies can be made under s109A, for example, a student can copy a vinyl recording that they own to the hard drive of their PC and then copy that content to their iPod or to CD format.

There are some restrictions:

  • the student must own the original copy
  • the original copy must be a legal copy – not a pirated copy
  • copies made must be for private and domestic use
  • copies made must be used on a playing device that the individual owns
  • copies cannot be sold, lent or given away
  • if the original copy of a sound recording is sold, swapped or disposed of, the copies must also be discarded
  • copies cannot be uploaded to the internet
  • copy protection measures attached to original recordings must not be removed or circumvented
  • copies must not be made from a podcast of a radio broadcast or similar program, unless it is licensed for private use.

The special case exception s200AB

Section 200AB can be used by students with a disability, or someone acting on their behalf, to copy material into accessible formats. s200AB is not a blanket exception which permits wholesale copying. It is a special case or last resort exception and each case must be considered on its merits.

Under s200AB a person with a disability which causes difficulty in reading, viewing or hearing a work in a particular format, or someone acting on their behalf, may copy the work into another format that reduces that difficulty, provided the following conditions are met:

  • the copying or communication is being carried out to assist a person with a disability which causes difficulty in reading, viewing or hearing the material in its current format
  • the use is non-commercial
  • no other exception of the Copyright Act covers the proposed copying or communication
  • the use does not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work by the copyright owner
  • the use will not unreasonably prejudice the rights of the copyright owner
  • the use is a special case
  • a record of the checks and searches carried out should be kept. This s200AB disability checklist in word format (checklist in pdf format) will help with decision-making and record-keeping.
  • the removal or circumvention of technological protection measures to make copies, e.g. the breaking of a copy protection lock on a DVD is not allowed and is an offence in many situations
  • print copies produced under s200AB should be labelled with the following warning notice

Copied by the University of Sydney under s200AB of the Copyright Act 1968.


Date copy made ____________.



  • the following notice should appear when material is copied and made available online under S200AB

Reproduced and communicated by the University of Sydney under s200AB of the Copyright Act 1968.

Date copy made______________.



Applying these conditions

If you need assistance, contact .

This is a helpful detailed guide to the use of s200AB - A user’s guide to the Flexible Dealing Provision for libraries, educational institutions and cultural institutions (pdf).

The usefulness of s200AB in copying material for students with a disability will be limited by the application of some of the tests, especially the criteria that no other exception of the Copyright Act covers the proposed copying or communication.
For example:

  • students with disabilities could not use s200AB to copy published books for their research or study since the s40 exemption which allows fair dealing for research or study already applies
  • a library could not use s200AB to copy journal articles for a disabled student for research purposes since s49 which allows copying to supply to users already exists
  • an educational institution could not use s200AB to copy a book for a student with a print disability since the print disability provisions of Part VB already apply.

However s200AB may be used to assist students with disabilities in the following circumstances:

  • a student with a print disability asks the University to produce a Braille version of a musical score – this may be possible under 200AB as print music is excluded from the print disability under Part VB. It will still be necessary to check if a Braille version of the score is available for purchase.
  • a lecturer wishes to caption an episode of a TV program to be shown in a class which includes a student with hearing difficulties – this may be permissible under s200AB. It is not covered by any existing exception in the Copyright Act and the purpose fits within the scope of s200AB. The lecturer should check that a captioned version cannot be obtained and limit the screening to University of Sydney students.


Agreements with publishers to copy material

Publishers are often willing to give permission for material to be made available in electronic format to be used by students with a disability.
Keep the following points in mind when negotiating agreements with publishers:

  • the terms of use set out in the agreement with the publisher must be followed – make sure everyone involved is aware of the conditions and restrictions
  • keep a copy of any agreements or licences with publishers
  • remember that electronic versions of textbooks may not always be compatible with local software standards
  • the Australian Copyright Council has prepared a useful Sample agreement between publishers and print disability organisations.