helenlt on October 23rd, 2015
It has often been said that research and innovation requires standing on the shoulders of giants. In our second post on copyright and research, we will look at how copyright allows you to use other people’s research and work.
Plagiarism vs. copyright infringement
As discussed in our first post, copyright does not protect ideas and information themselves, only how they are expressed in material form. Under copyright, it is okay to include someone else’s idea or research data in your own research so long as you acknowledge that the idea and information is not your own and you express the idea and information in your own original way. If you fail to acknowledge that you are using someone else’s idea or work this is plagiarism. Plagiarism is taken very seriously at the University. You can find more information about plagiarism and how to avoid it on Academic honesty and plagiarism. If you reproduce someone’s idea or information exactly as they have, for example using an excerpt of text or reproducing an image, you may have infringed copyright.
Copyright protects text, images, videos and sound recordings. If you use text, images, videos or sound recordings created by other people in your research, you will need to consider copyright carefully to make sure that you are not infringing copyright. Even if you acknowledge that you are using someone else’s work, you may still be infringing copyright. There are some provisions in the Copyright Act that allow you to use copyright material for your research or study; however these provisions are limited and may not cover everything that you wish to do as part of your research.
Fair dealing for research or study
Fair dealing for research or study is an exception in the Copyright Act that allows copyright material to be reproduced for research or study purposes without needing to get permission from the copyright owner. There some limitations on what you can reproduce under fair dealing. Generally, you are only permitted to reproduce 10% of the total pages or 1 chapter of a literary work, such as a book. There are certain circumstances when it may be possible to have more than 10% of the total pages or 1 chapter, for example if a book is out of print and cannot be purchased. In this case, you can have more so long as the amount you use is ‘fair and reasonable’. To work out if the amount you want to use is ‘fair and reasonable’, you need to consider the following:
- why you are copying the work
- the nature of the work
- the possibility of obtaining a copy within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the work
- if only part of the work is copied, the amount and substantiality of the part in relation to the whole work.
The 10%/1 chapter rule also applies to dramatic and musical works. Films, sound recordings and artistic works do not have pages or chapters and therefore you can only have a ‘fair and reasonable’ amount based on the criteria above. Journal articles are also treated differently. You can have 1 article from an issue of a journal. You can have two or more articles from the same issue if they are for the same research or course of study.
Fair dealing for research or study generally only allows you to reproduce material for your research or study. It does not allow you to reproduce material to communicate online or to publish it. If you intend to do any of these activities, you will need to seek permission from the copyright owner, unless another exception applies.
Other exceptions and publishing your research
Fair dealing for research or study will not apply if you wish to publish your research and it includes copyright material created by other people. It will also not apply if you are presenting your research in public, for example at a conference. There are other exceptions in the Copyright Act that may apply. Fair dealing for criticism or review allows you to use third party copyright material for the purposes of criticism and review. You need to make sure that you are actually critiquing or reviewing the work or concepts and ideas related to the work. The exception may not apply if you are including the copyright work as an exemplar or for illustrative purposes. Under fair dealing for criticism or review, you can use as much of the work as is needed to complete the critique or review.
If you are quoting a small amount of the work then you may only be using an insubstantial portion and you may not need to seek permission from the copyright owner. Be aware that the Copyright Act does not define an insubstantial portion; instead you need to consider whether the amount you are using is key, distinct or important to the overall work. If it is, it’s unlikely to be consider insubstantial.
It is important that you attribute any copyright material that you use to avoid plagiarism.
Permission from the copyright owner
You may need to seek permission from the copyright owner to use material as part of your research or study. Detailed information on how to Request Permission including suggestions on how to identify and locate the copyright owner and how to draft a permission letter is available from our website.