Copyright Exceptions

Copyright Exceptions

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. 

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)
Research & Education

Research, Education, Libraries and Archives

There are a number of exceptions to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act (1988)  which apply to universities. These include:

Section 32: Illustration for instruction. 

  • This Allows for copying by a person giving or receiving instruction, or preparing for giving or receiving instruction, and includes setting/communicating and answering examination questions, although the fact that this exception is now covered by the requirement   means that there are now greater restrictions on the  amount copied in that only a small portion of the work may be used.  However, the scope has been extended to include all kinds of copyright works including DVD's sound recordings and broadcasts. 
  • The instruction must be for non-commercial purposes, and the source must be properly acknowledged.
  • There is no definition provided for the  term “illustration”, but it is generally accepted that the material used must relate directly to a teaching point, and cannot be used simply to enhance a presentation or provide "light relief". 
  • 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.
  • More extensive use of copyright materials,  still comes under the terms and conditions of the various educational licences held by the University.

Particular care should be taken if you intend to rely on an exception. For more details see:  IPO Exceptions to Copyright: Education and Teaching

There are also a number of exceptions which apply to libraries and archives:

  • Section 40  allows educational establishments (publicly accessible libraries, museums or archives) to make works available via dedicated terminals on their premises as long as the work has been lawfully acquired, is being consulted for research or private study, and is made available in compliance with any relevant licence.
  • Section  41 permits libraries to make and supply a copy of a journal article, or the whole or part of any published work, to another library.  All types of published works are now covered, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
  • Section 42 permits an institution to make replacement or preservation copies of items in its permanent collection, provided it is not reasonably practicable to purchase a copy.  All types of copyright works are now covered, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
  • Section 42A allows a librarian to copy a reasonable proportion of a published work for staff or students without infringement.  Users must provide a copyright declaration form confirming that the use is non-commercial.  Single copies of the whole or part of unpublished works can be provided under similar restrictions (CDPA s. 43) except where this has been prohibited by the copyright owner.  All types of copyright works are now covered, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.




Non-Commercial research and private study

Section 29. 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

Section 30.  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

Section 30a.  This allows for 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".

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.