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UK Copyright Law and Photocopying

On the 31st October 2003, the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 was amended to comply with a European Union directive on copyright and related rights in the information society. Full details are available from the legislation website.

The Act includes a number of 'exceptions' to copyright, which enable individuals to make or obtain copies of extracts from copyright works for certain specific purposes without having to obtain prior copyright clearance or the permission of the copyright owner. Two key exceptions which are of direct relevance to University staff and students are:

Changes to the libraries exceptions

From 31st October 2003, the copyright declaration was revised to confirm that the requester will only use the copy for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose or private study. Private study will be defined such that it does not include any study which is directly or indirectly for a commercial purpose.

Anyone not able to sign the declaration will have to request 'copyright fee-paid or copyright cleared' photocopies through the Inter-Library Loans service. Such copies include a copyright fee in addition to the standard charge for an inter-library loan request.

The revised legislation does not define 'commercial or non-commercial purposes' but the European directive does indicate that what is commercial and non-commercial research, is not dependent upon either the organisational structure or the means of funding of the establishment engaged in that research. The determination should be solely based upon the known character of the research on the day that the copy is requested.

Research may initially have no immediate commercial goal. Provided there is no identifiable commercial purpose to the research on the day that the copy is requested, the copy can be supplied upon receipt of a signed copyright declaration form. On the other hand, if the research is related to the development of a product which will be going into the market later on, for example, then it is clearly for a commercial purpose and any copies supplied in support of that research must be copyright fee-paid.

The UK Government has made it clear that it is not a librarian's responsibility to decide whether a particular request for a copy is being made in support of commercial or non-commercial research. The person making the request must decide whether they can honestly sign the declaration form or whether a copyright fee-paid copy should be requested. Please do not expect or ask Library staff to make this decision for you.

Changes to the fair dealing exceptions

From 31st October 2003, a copy of an extract made by or for an individual from a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (e.g. a book chapter or a journal article, a poem, an excerpt from a musical score, or a diagram) may be made under the defence of "fair dealing" for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose or private study. Private study will be defined such that it does not include any study which is directly or indirectly for a commercial purpose. Any copying which is to be undertaken in support of commercial research or private study which is directly or indirectly connected with a commercial purpose cannot be defended as fair dealing, and in the absence of the prior permission of the copyright owner or the prior grant of a licence, is likely to constitute infringement of copyright.

Further details can be found on the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) website

(Thanks to Jonathan Burch, University of Leicester, for his help in producing this).

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