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Faculty of Health Sciences

This Library Guide is to provide you with Library Services and Resources to assist you with your studies!

What is Copyright?

Copyright refers to an author's sole right or the sole right of another holder of copyright to perform certain actions with regard to a creative work, particularly to the right to make multiple copies of the work (and to disseminate the work or copies of it).

Copyright protects written, theatrical, musical and artistic works as well as film, book layouts, sound recordings, and broadcasts.


What may I photocopy?

The South African Copyright Act sets out general exceptions from the protection of literary works. The fair dealing section allows a user to copy, for their own study or research or private use, as much of the work as they need to meet their reasonable needs, without seeking permission from the copyright owner or paying compensation.

Is it correct that as long as I photocopy 10% or less of a published work, this is permitted? 

No, it’s not correct. The Copyright Act says nothing about ‘10%’ or about any other percentage. The test for fair dealing is qualitative as well as quantitative, but it is clear that it must be for your own use. So, multiple copies are outside of fair dealing.

Fair use is based on:

  • The purpose and character of the use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole
  • The effect of the use on the potential market for the work

Remember: If your copy deprives the rights holder of income, then it's not fair, and you can't regard it as fair dealing.


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