The Copyright Designs and Patents law includes provision for certain exceptions which permit copying in certain circumstances or for certain categories of people, for example individuals with disabilities. A number of these exceptions have recently been amended, with the new provisions coming into force on 1st June 2014.

Aside from the new exceptions which are detailed below, some inherent exceptions in the CDPA include:

  • Abstracts (when taken directly from source)
  • Depiction of works on public display (eg a photograph of a sculpture etc.).
  • Incidental inclusion (e.g the unintentionally inclusion of an image in a scene from a film)
  • Judicial proceedings
  • Library privilege (copying for customers, excluding artistic works)
  • Making temporary copies (when browsing the internet or sending scanned items)
  • Off-air recording from television or radio (time shifting)
  • Reading in public (provided the author/copyright holder is duly acknowledged)

Non-Commercial research and private study

This exception allows the making of single copies or taking short extracts from literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works as well as typographical arrangements when the use is for non-commercial research or for private study. This ability to copy without causing financial harm to the copyright owner is known as 'fair dealing', a concept which is employed widely across all areas of copyright provision.

Since June 2014, a new provision allows for the making of personal copies for private use. This allows individuals who own lawfully acquired and permanently held copies of copyright works to make further copies for their own private, non-commercial use. The regulation defines "private use" as including (but not limited to) the making of back-up copies and copies for format shifting and storage purposes, e.g. to transfer a video to DVD or a vinyl record to CD. The right will apply retrospectively to any copy made before the Regulations come into force, but which would fall under the scope of the exception.

Please note: this exception does not apply to libraries or educational establishments in general. In addition, this exception does not apply to computer programs.

Criticism & Review

Criticism, review, quotation and news reporting

This exception allows the criticism, review or reporting of current events using copyright works. A new subsection states that copyright is not infringed by the use of a quotation from the work (whether for criticism or review or otherwise) provided that, amongst other things, the use of the quotation can be considered to comply with the concept of fair dealing and is no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used.

This new exception cannot be excluded or restricted by contract or licence.

For more information see Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988


Parody, caricature and pastiche

Limited amounts of copyright material may be used without the owner’s permission for the purpose of parody, caricature or pastiche. Any use of material for these purposes is only allowed insofar as it can be considered “fair dealing”

Examples include the use of a few lines of a song or dialogue from a film for a parody sketch, an easily-recognisable artwork or illustration may be used as the basis for a cartoon or caricature and a number of short excerpts from a number of films, or a montage of images may be used to create a pastiche artwork.

It is important to understand, however, that this exception only permits use for the purposes of caricature, parody, or pastiche to the extent that it is "fair dealing".

Research & Education

Research, Education, Libraries and Archives

There are a number of exceptions which apply to universities. These include:

  • As of June 2014, there is a new provision of illustration for instruction, which permits "fair dealing with a work for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction". The stated aim of this exception is to ensure that "all types of copyright work can be used in conjunction with modern teaching methods and technology without risk of copyright infringement". Use under this section must be non-commercial and fair.
  • The new provisions are also extended to the subsections dealing with recording by educational establishments of broadcasts, and reprographic copying of passages from published works provided that any activities undertaken by educational establishments are non-commercial and that sufficient acknowledgement of the source is given
  • Use of copyright materials in setting or answering examination questions. This exception is now subject to the 'fair dealing' test which potentially narrows the previous examination section under which the amount copied for examination purposes was not restricted in any way.
  • Performing, playing or showing copyright works in a school, university or other educational establishment for educational purposes, provided the audience consists solely of students and staff and others directly connected with the activities of the establishment.

Particular care should be taken if you intend to rely on an exception. For more details see:

Copyright Essential Reading from the Intellectual Property Office website.

Disability Regulations

Copyright Exceptions for People with Disabilities

The Disability regulation has also been amended as of June 2014 and now allows for:

  • Copies of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work to be made available to anyone with any form of disability, unlike the previous exception which was restricted to visual impairments only
  • Provision is made for the making and supply of copies by the university for disabled persons where copies are not already commercially available in an accessible format
  • A copy of a work which is not available via a licencing scheme, or available as a copyright-fee paid copy via the British Library or other agency may still be made on behalf of a disabled person without infringing copyright

Copyright Law and Licensing Schemes

Although the CDPA includes the exceptions listed in this section, these are often restricted to use by private individuals. Copying beyond the scope of fair dealing in the university setting can only be undertaken with the express permission of the licence holder or under licence.

A licence to record a broadcast for non-commercial education purposes can be obtained from the ERA or the Open University.

The University of Aberdeen has purchased a licence from the CLA which allows members of staff to scan passages from published literary or dramatic works for use in MyAberdeen and/or in powerpoint presentations. See section on Licences for details of the requirements.