Copying audiovisual items

For the purpose of study or research, there are circumstances under which you may copy an artistic work, sound recording, film, TV broadcast, or radio broadcast; or copy more than a reasonable portion of a literary, dramatic or musical work. The Copyright Act does not define what makes a dealing fair in such circumstances; instead, it specifies the matters that should be considered when determining whether your copying might be considered fair. These matters include:

  • the purpose and character of the dealing
  • the nature of the material
  • the possibility of obtaining the material commercially
  • the effect of the dealing upon the potential market for the material
  • the amount copied in relation to the whole of the source material

All five of the above fairness factors need to be considered. As a basic step, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is all of the copying you wish to do genuinely for study or research? If not your dealing will not be fair. This is a critical question.
  • Is the material commercially available? If so, it is unlikely to be a fair dealing unless other factors mitigate.
  • Will your actions have an adverse effect on the copyright owner’s market? If so, it is unlikely that your dealing would be fair.
  • How much are you copying? All else being equal, the more you copy the less likely it is that it will be fair.

As you can see, the fair dealing provisions are quite complex, and should only be relied upon if you are confident that the copying you wish to do is allowable under the fair dealing provisions.

Note that some materials may consist of separate copyright items involving several layers of copyright. For example, a music CD may contain a number of separate musical compositions, each with three layers of copyright - in relation to the lyrics, the musical compositions and the sound recordings. This will affect how much of the CD you could copy in reliance on the fair dealing provisions.