What is fair dealing ?


Fair dealing is an exemption in the Copyright Act which allows you to use other people’s copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting, provided that what you do with the work is ‘fair’. Whether something is ‘fair’ will depend on the circumstances. Courts will normally consider factors such as:

  • the purpose of the dealing (Is copy being used for one of the purposes set out in the fair dealing exemption?)
  • the amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
  • the character of the dealing (What was done with the work? Was it an isolated use or an ongoing, repetitive use? How widely was it distributed?)
  • alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?)
  • the nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?)
  • the effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)

It is not necessary that your use meet every one of these factors in order to be fair and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, your use is fair.

If, having taken into account these considerations, the use can be characterized as ‘fair’ and it was for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, news reporting, education, satire, parody, or review, then it will fall within the fair dealing exemption and will not require permission from the copyright owner. In addition, you must also mention the source and author of the work.

The George Brown’s Fair Dealing Policy translates some of the high level principles of fair dealing into practical rules applicable to a college setting. Review this document to find out how you can apply this exception to your teaching.

  • Last Updated Jan 14, 2021
  • Views 1049
  • Answered By Heather Buffett

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