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Digital Essentials: Fair Dealing

Fair dealing

Australian copyright law does not have "Fair Use" exemptions, which is a US law, however, there are "Fair Dealing" exemptions that allow limited use of a "reasonable portion" of copyrighted material. This "reasonable potion" of a work can be used without seeking permission from the Copyright owner. These exemptions are:

  • Fair dealing for research and study

Note: This material can only be used in a class-setting or password-protected site like Canvas, and must not be made publicly available.

In addition to Fair Dealing provisions, ECU has Statutory and Voluntary Licenses to cover Broadcast and Recorded materials, as well as for Public Performance rights.

  • For the purpose of access by persons with a disability
  • For the purpose of criticism or review
  • For the purpose of parody or satire

Note: "Parody" and "Satire" are very specific requirements, and are not merely synonyms for "humour."

Note: Libel laws may still apply.

  • For the purpose of reporting news

Note: There is no "transformational" exemption under Australia's Fair Dealing provisions, unlike the United State's Fair Use laws. Thus, remixes and memes are, strictly speaking, infringement under Australian law (if permission has not been granted by Copyright owners.)


What is a "reasonable portion"?

There are two general ways to work out what is "reasonable" under Fair Dealing, though these are not definitive. Firstly, a set amount for Copyright material that can easily be calculated (e.g. text based material):

  • 10% of the number of pages (if it’s text or sheet music and is more than 10 pages long)
  • One chapter (if it’s divided into chapters) either printed or electronic
  • An article from a newspaper, magazine or journal (or two articles if it is from a special issue on the same theme)
  • 10% of the number of words in an electronic work (e.g. from the Internet)

Secondly, a judgment call on what is being copied (photos, images, film, etc.) and what it is being used for (how much, what type of material is it):

  • Small amount of music to illustrate a technique, an image to demonstrate a skill, diagram to show where parts go together
  • A whole image or diagram, 30 seconds of a piece of music, a minute of a film
  • Whether the material is available for purchase?
  • Will using the material affect sales of the original copyright material?
  • How much are you copying, and how important or distinctive is the piece?


Fair Dealing obligations

There are obligations you need to adhere to when using copyright material under fair dealing, you must:

  • Attribute the material (this is in addition to Referencing, see the page on Referencing & Copyright on the Guide menu, paying particular attention to the Captions section.)

This can be done in a number of ways:

  • A citation list or bibliography
  • A credits list at the end of a video
  • Verbal thanks at the end of a recital or music program
  • A reference slide at the end of a PowerPoint presentation
  • Clickable link under the image