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Copyright: Copyright FAQ's

Copyright procedures & guidelines at University of Pretoria, Department of Library Services.

Copyright FAQ's

What is protected under the Copyright Act?

Literary (whether in written, printed or digital form), musical and artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, broadcasts, programme-carrying signals, computer programmes and published editions.


Surely it is acceptable to photocopy as much as I want for my classes as long as it is for educational purposes, and not for profit?

The Copyright Act does not say anywhere that you may copy as much as you like as long as it is not for commercial purposes.


But the school has bought the book I want to copy from. If it belongs to the school, why must I ask someone else for permission?

You have to separate the physical property (the book) from the intellectual property (the content)

contained in it. Ownership of the book is not the same as ownership of the ideas as expressed in it. The expression of those ideas belongs to the author. The publisher has a separate copyright in the

published edition or the typographical arrangement on the page.


May I freely photocopy from a book that is out of print?

No. Out of print does not mean out of copyright. Copyright in the content lasts for 50 years after the death of the author. Copyright in the published edition lasts for 50 years from the date of publication.


Is it legal to photocopy an illustration (a photograph, map or diagram) and hand it out to my class for insertion into their exercise books?



Can’t afford to apply for a licence to reproduce an artistic work. To what extent must I change it so that it is no longer a copy?

There is no copyright in ideas or in information, but there is copyright in the way they are expressed. It is legally acceptable to present the same information in an original, value-added manner, as long as it does not resemble the genuine artistic work.


Want to photocopy pages from a published workbook and hand them to my classes. Is this allowed by the regulations, since the purpose is “classroom use or discussion”?

No.  Copies may be made from works intended to be ephemeral*, including workbooks, exercises, standardised texts, etc. (sub-regulation 9(b)). * ephemeral – lasting for only a short time.


May I enlarge and photocopy a map, picture or diagram and stick it on the wall of my


Yes, this is allowed by section 12(4) of the Copyright Act.


I am busy putting together an exam paper. May I include a short extract from a book?

Yes, if the extract is short you may reproduce it (“quote” from it), but you must cite the source and author (see section 12(3) of the Copyright Act).


May I photocopy a cartoon, ‘tippex’ out the words in the bubbles, and ask pupils to insert their own words?



May I make a backup copy of a video and store it in the school library?



How many copies of the chosen section may I copy for my students?

The copyright regulations promulgated in terms of section 13 of the Act permit multiple copies for students as follows: not more than nine instances of multiple copying may take place for one course of instruction to a particular class during any one term. Furthermore, only one copy per pupil per course may be made.


What must I do when I need to photocopy more than is allowed by the Copyright Act and Regulations?

You must obtain a licence. We will then advise you if the amount you wish to copy is permissible and quote you the charge for doing so. You will receive confirmation in writing.


What about obtaining a licence to copy works published outside South Africa?

The application must still be submitted, as DALRO have reciprocal agreements with RROs in other parts of the world.


Is content on the Internet copyrighted?

Yes. It is a common misconception that everything on the web is in the public domain. While it is true that documents on the web (and in other digital formats) are easier to reproduce and distribute than other media, the ease of reproduction and distribution does not change the copyright. Digital content is still copyrighted and copying or reproducing it without permission may be illegal. Not everything on the internet is copyright free.


Is linking to something on the web a copyright violation?

When you create a hyperlink from one web page to another, you have not made a copy of the original work, so this is not a copyright infringement. Generally, you are also not expected to request permission to link to a web page, though it is often considered courteous to do so.


If a lecturer has requested the library to buy a prescribe book and place it in the reserved section but by the time the classes commence, the book is not available at the publishers but the Lecturer has his/her own copy, can he/she make copies of the whole book and students pays for these copies?

No, it is illegal to make an unauthorized copy of the whole book but the industry only allows 10% for the book to be copied and more than that permission should be requested from the rights owner/publisher.


Am I allowed to photocopy part of a book for my own personal and private use?

Yes. Copyright is not infringed by any fair dealing with the purpose of personal or private use of the work by the person making the copy.


But surely I am allowed to make more than one copy if there is no commercial gain involved?

The regulations to the act offer certain concessions for educational institutions and for non-profit libraries. These include a defined number of multiple copies strictly for classroom use or discussion, but exclude compilations.


I want each of my students to copy for themselves an article from a journal. Can I put a photocopy of the article on the reserve shelf in the library for each student to photocopy under ‘fair dealings’?

No. You need to apply for copyright clearance


How about if I put the journal itself (not a photocopy) on the reserve shelf in the library and tell my students to copy it for themselves?

Although each student may make a ‘fair dealing’ copy, 100 students each making a copy results in 100 copies, whereas fair dealing is intended to apply in the case of the single copy made by the person using the work. That would be unfair.


What, then, must I do if I need to make multiple copies for my students in excess of 10%?

You may only legally make them under licence. The photocopy of the whole books by students as a substitute for buying them is not a licensable activity.


May I download and print out an article from the Internet and photocopy it for my class of 20 students?

You may print out a copy for your personal or private use but you may not further reproduce it for your students without permission from the rights owner. Fair dealing applies in the digital as well as the analogue environment.


How about newspapers and magazines?

Newspapers and magazines usually administer their own reprographic reproduction rights. Your first stop should therefore be the publishing house itself.


If the book I want to copy from is out of print, surely I can go ahead ?

No. ‘Out of print’ does not necessarily mean ‘out of copyright’.


But if a book is out of print and unavailable, the publisher is not losing any sales by my copying his book?

It is wrong to imagine that publishers and authors exploit a work only when it is in print, or that sales are the only means of exploiting a work. Long after the book is out of print it may still generate revenues for its creators through the sale of, for example, translation rights, film rights – and photocopying rights.


Since DALRO does not own copyright in the books and journals, how can it licence their photocopying?

DALRO is an agent for rights owners/publishers, with a mandate to manage and licence their work to anyone who wants to use it.