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Copyright: Photocopying and Scanning

This guide provides information on copyright in relation to library collections and their use for teaching, learning and research.

Personal Use


The Copyright Act permits copying for non commercial research or private study. This is allowed under the fair dealing exemption in Irish law. Although fair dealing has no legal definition, its intention is to facilitate a reasonable balance between the economic interests of the copyright holder and the information needs of the user.

Fair dealing allows copying for personal use (i.e. a single copy) under the following conditions:

  • The copy is for research or private study, criticism or review, reporting current events, or for judicial or parliamentary proceedings.
  • The amount copied will not unreasonably prejudice the interest of the copyright holder.
  • The copy is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement or reference.
  • The copy must not be re-copied, republished, posted online or multi-copied. 

Provided the above criteria are met, you can copy a “fair” amount of a published work. What is considered fair is not specified, but the following guidelines (from British Copyright Council) are considered reasonable:

  • One complete chapter, or 5% of a book (whichever is greater)
  • One article from any one issue of a journal
  • The whole of a short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length from an anthology.

(from Sections 50-51 Copyright Act, 2001).

Multiple Copies

The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA) operates a licensing scheme, which permits making multiple copies of material published in territories specified in the licence. UCD pays for this licence, which allows multiple copying under the following conditions:

  • Copying must be for the educational purposes of the establishment
  • It is limited to one copy for each student in the class, plus 2 copies for the teacher,
  • Every copy must be accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement or reference.
  • The copied material must not exceed:
    • One complete chapter, or 5% of a book (whichever is greater)
    • One article from any one issue of a journal
    • The whole of a short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length from an anthology.
  • The material is published in the territories that are specified in the licence.

The ICLA licence does not cover:

  • Multiple copying of items specified in ICLA’s list of Excluded Works (
  • Multiple copying of maps, charts, artistic works, books of tables, printed music or newspapers.

Details of the licence are available @

Please consult our section on Copyright for Teaching for further details.  

Material Not Covered by ICLA or NLI Licences

To make multiple copies of material not covered by the ICLA or NLI licences, permission must be sought from the copyright owner or the relevant licencing body, e.g. Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) or the Irish Visual Rights’ Organisation. Others, e.g. Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) manage rights directly for their own works.


Copying of newspapers is covered by a separate licence, operated by Newspaper Licensing Ireland LtdThis licence covers:

  • Copying of any article, report, part or extract of a newspaper.
  • Scanning and circulating an electronic copy of a newspaper extract is permitted if the copy is deleted from the system 30 days after the date of publication.


The information contained within these pages is intended as a general guideline, and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

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