Astrid Bovell on March 7th, 2014
When uni starts it’s not just teachers that need guidance, students need advice too. So here’s some reminders about how you can copy content if you’re a student.
Fair Dealing for Research or Study
Under the provisions in the Copyright Act, you can copy material without permission from the copyright owner, providing that your use is “fair” and you’re copying it for your research
or study. Research or study purposes could be things like copying a book chapter or journal article that relates to something you’re studying so that you can annotate it or refer back to it later because you don’t have permanent access to a copy of the book or it could be something like making a copy of an artistic work to include in your assignment.
Now what do I mean by saying the use has to be “fair”?
The Copyright Act tells us that for books and similar works, a fair amount is 10% of the total number of pages (or words, if there are no pages) or 1 chapter, whichever is greatest. For journal articles, it advises a fair amount is 1 article per issue, 2 or more articles from the same issue if they are for the same research or course of study. BUT if you need to use more than that amount, or your work is not a literary or dramatic work or a musical score, then in order to work out if your copying is “fair”. To do that, the Copyright Act gives us the following criteria to help us decide whether our copying for research or study purposes is fair:
1) Why are you copying the work?
It’s more fair to copy something that you need over something that you want. So are you copying and including the material just to pretty up your assignment? Or are you copying and including it because it’s necessary for your assessor to understand what’s being discussed in the assignment?
2) The nature of the work
It’s likely to be more fair to copy something that took very little time and effort to create, than something that took a lot of time and effort to create.
3) How much are you copying?
It’s more fair to copy and insubstantial portion, than a substantial portion – qualitatively (key, important and distinct to the overall work) and quantitatively (the physical amount). That said, if you really need to copy the whole thing then it can still be fair that you are copying all of it. For example, you may need the whole work because otherwise your work won’t make sense or you won’t have access to a section that you need to revise, then you can have the
4) Can you buy the work at an ordinary commercial price within a reasonable time frame?
If a separate copy of the work you need exists as a copy that you can readily purchase at the usual recommended retail price within the time frame that you need it, then you should buy a copy rather than make the copy.
5) The effect of your copying on the market for or value of the work
Does your copying the content for your research or study in some way devalue the original work? Or unfairly impact its market value.?
Remember that even if you’re allowed to copy something, it’s still imperative that you provide full citation details for the content. This is a legal requirement, to ensure you’re not in breach of moral rights and to avoid any accusations of plagiarism. If you’re not sure about how to cite content – we can help with that too.