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How do I know my use of a work is fair?

UK copyright exceptions permit limited reuse in certain circumstances and many exceptions are subject to a test of ‘fair dealing’ - in other words, whether the reuse is 'fair' in the context. There is no statutory definition of 'fair dealing', so the extent to which a fair dealing copyright exception might apply will always depend on the individual facts in each case.

Although there are no precise guidelines for knowing when a dealing is fair, these factors are likely to be relevant when deciding whether the use of material is fair or not:

1. The purpose and motives for use

2. The nature of the material being used

3. The amount (quantity and significance) of the material being used

4. The consequences of the use in terms of impact upon the market for the original material

For example, if the motive for use is primarily for profit, it will be considered less fair than use for educational purposes. The amount taken is also a factor, particularly as it is not limited to the quantity but also the significance of that portion to the work as a whole. Generally, the larger the portion used, the less likely it will be considered fair dealing. Finally, consider the effect that the use of the work may have on the market for the original: take no more than is necessary so that your work does not become a substitute for the original.

Ultimately, in deciding whether your use of copyright-protected material is a fair dealing for the purposes of criticism, review or quotation, you should consider whether an independent 'fair-minded and honest person' would agree with your approach.

All material must be correctly referenced with the author and title of the work acknowledged.