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Research Guide: Art History

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Finding Images


UK copyright law permits fair dealing with a work for the purposes of non‑commercial research and private study. This covers copying of all types of copyright work. It means that researchers and students can copy extracts from sound recordings, films and broadcast as well as literary, dramatic and musical works for these purposes.

The law requires that acknowledgement be given to the copied source when used in research or private study. For academic staff and research students, this creates the obligation to use proper citations. The only exception may be situations where acknowledgement would be impossible for practical reasons.

Only a single copy may be made (either by the researcher or student, or for another person researching or studying). Fair dealing requires that you only copy as much of a work as is necessary for the purpose, and that any copying does not impact upon the rightsholder’s legitimate exploitation of their work. Fair dealing for the purpose of non-commercial research and private study will not cover the making of multiple copies.

Although the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act does not clearly define the amount of original material that can be copied, the Society of Authors issued guidance in 1965:

  • one article from any one issue of a journal (even if that one article is the whole issue)
  • one chapter or up to 5% (whichever is greater) of a book or similar publication
  • up to 10% of a short book of up to 200 pages (CILIP, formerly Library Association, guidelines)
  • one poem or short story of up to 10 pages from an anthology, or
  • the report of one case in law reports.