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Copying and scanning

Exceptions to copyright, what can and can't be copied, how much can be copied, what can be scanned and who can scan.


Under copyright law, in order to copy or scan a work, you need to seek permission from the copyright owner. However, this may not be necessary, because of certain exceptions to copyright and permissions under our Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence. We will look at these in turn. 

Exceptions to copyright

These include: 

Non-commercial research and private study 

You can copy limited extracts of works for these purposes, as long as this constitutes fair dealing (see below). A test to apply is whether your use of the work might have a significant financial impact on the copyright owner.  

Text and data mining for non-commercial research  

As a researcher, you can make copies to carry out text and data analysis for your research. A subscription would be still be required in order to access the material, however.  


Please see Copyright for lecturers.

Helping disabled people 

This covers all disabilities, both physical and mental.  

Braille, audio visual, large print and accessible copies of books and other printed materials may be made by educational establishments, to assist visually impaired and dyslexic users. However, these must be made from lawfully accessed copies, for the personal use of a disabled person, by authorized bodies. 

Sufficient acknowledgement 

If using one of the exceptions to copy work, you must acknowledge the source being used.  

Fair dealing 

This is a term used to establish whether use of copyright material is lawful or infringes copyright. There is no precise definition of it, but a question to ask is “how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?” Key factors used by courts in determining what is fair include:  

  • deciding if use of a work acts as a substitute, causing the owner to lose revenue, in which case it is not likely to be fair 
  • deciding if the amount copied is reasonable, appropriate and necessary. Copying a large part of a work will almost certainly not be deemed to be fair.  

The CLA Higher Education Licence

Find out what you can and can't copy, how much you can copy, and about scanned and digitised content.

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