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Curtin University
Copyright at Curtin

Copyright and research

This section covers the options available to students and staff copying materials for the purpose of research, study, criticism or review. Information in this section was adapted from the Universities Australia Guidelines on Print & Graphic and Audio-Visual Copying and Communication.

Fair dealing

Under the 'fair dealing' provisions of the Copyright Act, an individual can copy a limited part of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or audio-visual item without infringing copyright; provided it is for the purposes of research, study, criticism or review. Copying limits are described below. You cannot use copies made under the fair dealing provisions for any other purpose. If you do, then the copies are infringing copies and penalties may occur.

Fair dealing for research or study

In considering what constitutes a 'fair dealing for research or study' a court would consider the following:

Copying which is part of the research function; such as preparing an article or an academic's general reading to maintain current awareness in their field of expertise, is made 'for the purpose of research or study'. A communication between two academics for the purpose of joint research will likely satisfy the test, but few other instances of communication will.

Multiple copying for distribution to students or other uses in teaching would not normally be considered to be fair dealing for the purpose of research or study. For further information see the website's section on teaching.

Fair dealing for criticism or review

The provisions of the Copyright Act do not provide guidance as to what factors constitute a 'fair dealing for criticism or review'.

However, an example could be if a lecturer copies a work for inclusion in a conference paper for the purpose of commenting critically on the material. It may also apply to communications between academics for the purpose of academic criticism and discussion. This category of fair dealing would normally only apply to copying you do for yourself or for other staff - it will very rarely apply to multiple copying for distribution to students.

Students can normally rely on the 'fair dealing' provisions to copy a limited amount of a sound recording or film clip for the purpose of critiquing or otherwise including the work as part of an assignment. For example, a student could copy an extract of music in order to analyse it in a Cultural Studies class as an item of popular culture.

In order to obtain the protection of this section, the purpose of the dealing must be criticism or review. If the court considers that the real purpose of the dealing is not criticism or review, for example if the purpose is publication, the protection will be lost.

The criticism and review provisions stipulate that there must be sufficient acknowledgment of the author and the item which is the subject of the criticism or review.

Acknowledging your sources

It has always been good academic practice to include a citation on any material that you copy, noting its author, title and source. It is also a legal requirement under the moral rights provisions of the Copyright Act (the creator's right of attribution).

If relevant to your situation, include in the citation phrases such as 'Reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner' or 'Reproduced in compliance with licence conditions available at [url]', etc.

Fair dealing copying limits

Any copying you do under the fair dealing provisions must be considered 'fair'.

Type of Material

Copying Limit

Additional Comments

Extracts from a literary or dramatic work.

e.g. book, play, novel, anthology, journal, newspaper

Journals/newspapers – One article per issue, or more than one if the articles relate to the same subject.

Books – 10% of the words or one chapter (whichever is greater).

Single copy only, for your own individual use.

May only make multiple copies if your purpose is 'criticism or review'.

e.g. if you make a tutorial presentation commenting on the work and need to provide students in the tutorial with an extract copy.

Artistic work.

e.g. painting, sculpture, cartoon, photograph, diagram

May copy in its entirety.

Limit to a single copy unless multiple copies required for 'criticism or review'.


e.g. sound recordings, film, video

Little guidance, but amount is quantitative and qualitative.

Seek advice if you want to copy more than a small amount.

Licensed content.

Depends on the terms and conditions in the licence agreement.

Licensed content available through the Library generally permits limited copying for non-commercial, personal use.

Website content.

Check terms and conditions on website.

Website content generally permits limited copying for non-commercial, personal use.

Software and ICT

The University has contracts with many software vendors which enable the use of that software by specific groups of computer users, or for specified applications. The use of such software outside the terms of the contracts is prohibited. Unless authorised by the copyright owner, you must not copy software on University computers or personally owned computers using University network facilities.

Any copying you do from software manuals must be in accordance with the fair dealing provisions relating to extracts from literary or dramatic work.

The Library also buys some software for students to use - either inside the Library or by borrowing it. This software is also covered by contract and cannot be copied unless specifically permitted by the contract. For more information, contact Curtin University Library.

Material which does not support the educational purposes of the University cannot be downloaded, copied or communicated using University equipment or computer networks. For additional information on appropriate uses of the internet at Curtin, see the guidelines on Appropriate ICT Use.

Student at bookshelf