‘Fair dealing’ is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright. There is no statutory definition of fair dealing - it will always be a matter of fact, degree and impression in each case. The question to be asked is: how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?
Factors that have been identified by the courts as relevant in determining whether a particular dealing with a work is fair, include:
- Does using the work affect the market for the original work? If a use of a work acts as a substitute for it, causing the owner to lose revenue, then it is not likely to be fair.
- Is the amount of the work taken reasonable and appropriate? Was it necessary to use the amount that was taken? Usually only part of a work may be used.
The relative importance of any one factor will vary according to the case in hand and the type of dealing in question.
How much can I copy from books or journals?
The following upper limits are interpreted as reasonable for private study or non-commercial research by a number of organisations, including the British Library:
- One complete chapter of a book
- One article from a journal
- Up to 5% of a book or journal