The issue of copyright is one that we encounter a lot at Nuffield College Library. In particular, we receive questions about how much of a work may be legally reproduced. We hope this post will help clarify the situation a bit.
The rules on copyright are not as precise as most people expect. By law, everyone is permitted to reproduce an “insubstantial amount” of a work. According to “fair dealing” rules, a “reasonable proportion” of a work may be reproduced once in the course of private study or research (as long as it’s for a non-commercial purpose). There are no specific limits in these cases, but the Bodleian Library provides some generally accepted guidelines here.
Copyright is a regular issue for academics as they absorb and publish great amounts of information. Copyright expert Graham P. Cornish advises:
“Because copyright is such an intangible thing, there is often a temptation to ignore it. Those who take this approach forget that they, too, own copyright in their own creations and would feel quite angry if this were abused by others. Some of the restrictions placed on use by the law may seem petty or trivial but they are designed to allow some use of copyright material without unduly harming the interests of the creator (author)”
Copyright: Interpreting the Law for Libraries, Archives and Information Services. Library Association Publishing, 1999.
To make sure you comply with copyright rules, ask a member of the Nuffield College Library staff before you copy. You might also like to consult the links below: