Skip to Main Content

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 10% 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).


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.