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The Education exception and past PhD theses

Chris JHolland23 April 2019

A recent enquiry concerned the use of a past thesis in a writing workshop where students of a specific course would have the opportunity to examine and also to critique the writing style of that thesis, which would be studied as a relevant example. The question was whether it would be acceptable to copy the thesis in its entirety for the purpose of the workshop.

It seems very likely that this re-use of a thesis would be “fair dealing” in terms of the education (or “illustration for instruction”) exception which can be found in Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). Naturally this would only be “fair dealing” to the extent that the copies were used strictly for the task in hand and not for any additional purpose beyond the scope of Section 32. The context also needs to be “non-commercial” so something like  a fee-charging CPD course would probably not be covered.

In addition Section 32 does not specify that the work must have been  “…made available to the public” as does the exception for criticism, review, quotation and news reporting (Section 30, CDPA) for example. So that question does not arise in relation to the thesis.

Quoting from an unpublished PhD Thesis

Chris JHolland17 April 2015

This query received by the UCL Library involves several aspects of copyright. A researcher, Shilpa, who is planning to publish a book, has visited the Library to consult a PhD thesis. The author of the thesis (Hector) died a few years previously. Shilpa has asked about the copyright implications of reproducing some quotations from Hector’s PhD thesis in her book. A question springs to mind for those familiar with the recent changes to UK Copyright Law:

Could the use of material from the PhD thesis be covered by the new, broader Quotations exception (Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988)? If the quotations are of modest length and meet the requirements of the Fair dealing test (which applies to Section 32 along with other copyright exceptions) then it may be that the researcher will feel confident in relying on the exception.

However, if there is any doubt about whether it is then, given especially that the book will be commercially published, Pam may decide to reduce her risk by seeking permission.

 But then whom should she approach for permission? Copyright would initially have belonged to the author. The thesis is unpublished so it is most likely that copyright remained with the author, now deceased. IP rights can be inherited like any item of property. Unless the author of the thesis made provision for the copyright in his works in a will it has probably been inherited by his family as part of his estate. The task facing Shilpa is therefore to trace Hector’s family in order to find the copyright owner and seek permission.

Focus on Fair Dealing

Chris JHolland7 July 2014

The Fair Dealing test has been mentioned before in this blog. The majority of the recently updated exceptions to copyright rely upon this test and so it is in the spot light, although it was already an established concept in UK Copyright law.

In contrast to the concept of “fair use” in US copyright law, which can be applied generally, “fair dealing” in UK copyright law is only relevant in the context of the statutory exceptions. It is a test of whether we are applying the exception correctly and therefore of whether we can rely upon it for protection.

The UK Intellectual Property Office say: “There is no statutory definition of fair dealing – it will always be a matter of fact, degree and impression in each case. The question to be asked is: how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?”* Therefore it will always depend upon the context, but two key questions will generally apply:

  • Could we be damaging the copyright owner’s interests by our use of their work? For example by producing something in direct competition?
  • Are we using more of their work than is really necessary in the particular circumstances.

By way of example, copying an extract for the purposes of setting an examination may be fair dealing whereas reproducing the same material in a published work under the Quotation exception (which applies from 1st October)might not be fair dealing.

*IPO (2014),Exceptions to Copyright: Guidance for creators and copyright owners

Examination Exception

Chris JHolland3 July 2014

The examination exception is part of the exception for purposes of “illustration for instruction” (CDPA 1988 Section 32). The new Section 32 is very good news but in relation to examinations it is more restrictive. The old exception permitting copying for setting or completing an examination was unrestricted. Now the fair dealing test applies to the whole section including copying for examinations. What does this mean?  In the examination context it is unlikely that we would be damaging the economic interests of the rights owner. The main thing to bear in mind is that in setting examinations we should not include more of the work than is strictly necessary and it should be acknowledged where possible. A positive aspect is that the exception now covers all media, such as an extract of recorded music or of a film.  

The examination exception covers 3rd party material included in a PhD thesis. The student should be aware that in including 3rd party material they need to apply the fair dealing test, key questions being:

  • Am I using more of the work than is really necessary for the purpose?
  • Could I be damaging the interests of the copyright owner by reproducing their work in this way?

Remember that the examination exception does not cover subsequent publication of your thesis in UCL Discovery or reusing the same content in a journal article. You will need to consider applying for permission or publishing a redacted version

 

Fair Dealing for Instruction

Chris JHolland23 June 2014

Among the updated exceptions to copyright introduced this month there are two which are specific to education and which I will cover in separate blog posts. Firstly there is the exception “…for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction”. This is in the amended Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It is a “fair dealing” exception and is available to those receiving and giving instruction.

Now expanded to cover any method of copying and copyright works in any medium, this exception has been transformed into something useful, but care is required about what is and is not covered.  Examples that would be covered:

  • A modest extract from a film in a presentation to students, as long as the extract is copied from a legal source and the other criteria are fulfilled.
  • Distributing copies of an extract from a book to students for use in a seminar.

What would not be covered:

  • Anything which is not “fair dealing” such as an unreasonably long extract or a replacement for purchasing copies of a text book.
  • Anything done for a commercial purpose, such as a charged CPD course.
  • Long-term storage of the extracts, beyond the immediate teaching context.  

The exception will permit usage of material not already covered by a licence. In some cases there may be a choice between the exception and copying under a licence.  There is a good case for preferring the licensed route to minimise risk.

A post on copying for examinations will follow.