Answering Net user's copyright-law queries

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 May, 2001, 12:00am

In his letter headlined 'Officials sending mixed messages to public' (Sunday Morning Post, April 22), Roy Grubb asked us to clarify some points.

Permanently storing a Web page on hard disk, or printing it out without the copyright owner's permission, may be permitted as 'fair dealing' in copyright law if you do it for your own research and private study.

How do you tell whether this sort of printing-out or permanent storage for research and private study is fair? The guidelines are:

You only make a single copy.

You do the copying yourself, for your own use (that is, not for distribution to others). But it is all right to ask an employee (for example, a secretary) to do the copying for you.

You do not copy too extensively.

This raises another question. What does 'copying too extensively' mean?

The answer is that you should restrict your copying so that it does not conflict with the copyright owner's normal exploitation of his work. If, as Mr Grubb wrote, this copying does not deprive the copyright owner of anything, then the copying for personal research and study will be 'fair'. On the other hand, copying a large part of a book so that the author and publisher are deprived of a sale would not be 'fair'.

Both before and after April 1, private or domestic users can copy broadcasts and cablecasts for time-shifting (that is, watching at a more convenient time).


Director of Intellectual Property


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