For a description of the key exceptions that are particularly relevant to libraries and their users, including fair dealing, see Key exceptions in the Copyright Act.

Material not protected by copyright

You do not need to obtain any permissions where:

  • the item was never protected by copyright;
  • copyright has been waived; or
  • copyright has expired.

Material that is in copyright

Australian copyright law allows you to copy in-copyright material in certain circumstances. The provisions of the Copyright Act that set out these circumstances are known as exceptions. If an exception applies, you do not need to ask the copyright owner for permission to undertake acts within its scope.

For example, the fair dealing exceptions can apply where you copy material for the purpose of research, study, criticism, review, parody, satire, reporting the news, or giving legal advice. The Copyright Act expressly states that certain acts constitute fair dealings, such as copying up to 10% or one chapter of a book, or copying one article, for research or study. However in other cases, you will need to consider the elements of fair dealing as set out in the Copyright Act. There are also exceptions which allow some copying by cultural and educational institutions and on behalf of people with print or intellectual disabilities. These are particularly relevant where you ask the library to reproduce collection material and supply a copy to you.

Restrictions for other reasons

In addition, special restrictions not related to copyright often apply to the copying of rare or unique works in the Library's collections. These may be due to preservation concerns, conditions of acquisition, or because of the operation of other laws (such as defamation and privacy). Read more about copying that requires the Library's permission.