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Copyright Guide and Referencing Images

About Fair Dealing

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) allows people to use copyright material without the copyright owner’s permission in certain situations, including fair dealing for specific purposes. (Australian Copyright Council, 2020)

The “fair dealing” principle may enable you to use copyright material without permission from the copyright holder. However, you still need to determine that your use is lawful.

One of the specific purposes allowed for under these “fair dealing” provisions in the Copyright Act is for research or study - material protected by copyright but used/reproduced for the purpose of research or study will not infringe copyright if the use is deemed to be “fair”:

  • The use is considered “fair” if you (as a student) only reproduce a “reasonable portion” of the material – for a written work, this is deemed to be 10% of the total number of pages in an edition, or a single chapter. If you want to use more than this amount (of a written work) this may still be possible under fair dealing, but you must first also assess the five factors listed below to work out whether the use is “fair”.
  • If you (as a student) want to reproduce a visual work (e.g., an image, a photograph, etc.) the five factors below must also be automatically considered as the Copyright Act does not specify what constitutes a “reasonable portion” - i.e., one image could be considered to be an entire work.

Fairness principles to consider:

  1. The purpose and character of the dealing (e.g., copying for course work / assessment is more likely to be “fair” than copying for research which may be used commercially);
  2. The nature of the work (e.g., it may be less fair to copy a work produced with a high degree of skill than a more mundane/standard work);
  3. The possibility of obtaining the work within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price (generally, it is unlikely to be fair to copy all or most of a work that you can buy);
  4. The effect of the dealing on the potential market for, or value of, the work (making a copy is unlikely to be fair if the publisher sells or licenses copies, e.g., from their website); and
  5. In a case where only part of the work is copied, the amount and substantiality of the part copied in relation to the whole work - i.e., it is less fair to copy a large or significant part, than to copy a small or insignificant part.

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