DCU Copyright Policy



This page provides some general information on copyright. It is not intended to be an authoritative interpretation of copyright law.

Copyright Law in Ireland is regulated primarily by the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (the "Act"). Copyright refers to any type of an expression of ideas or facts, created and translated to permanent form. This includes original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. The duration of copyright varies, depending on the nature of the works The holder of copyright has exclusive economic and moral rights. Copyright infringement includes making and/or using illegal copies of works, or using original works in unauthorised ways. An infringement of copyright is punishable in accordance with the 2000 Act.

All personnel, including students and/or staff of Dublin City University ("DCU"), should familiarise themselves with the law on copyright, and must abide by those laws, before making a photocopy of any works.

The following instances of copying are permitted for both staff and students:

  • Where copyright in the works has expired (please see the 2000 Act, or the earlier legislation in the case of works created prior to 1 January 2001 for details of the duration of the copyright by reference to the type of works);
  • If you are the owner of the copyright;
  • If the owner of the copyright has given permission for the work to be copied, or where the use of the work is governed by a licence granted by the copyright holder; and
  • The copying is permitted by one of the exemptions in the 2000 Act. These are discussed in more detail below.

The 2000 Act expressly provides for certain exceptions to the strict law on copyright. One exception to the right holder's exclusive rights is the defence of "fair dealing". Specifically, Section 50 of the 2000 Act refers to fair dealing in the context of research or private study. The making of one copy of a copyright work for research or private study will not constitute copyright infringement.

Students should familiarise themselves with the law of copyright for any copying that does not fall within the fair dealing defence so as to ensure compliance.

Sections 53 to 58 of the 2000 Act specifically refer to exemptions in the context of educational purposes. Amongst the key exemptions that might apply to photocopying works by staff are the following:

  • Instructions: giving or preparing for instruction where the use is by or on behalf of the person giving or receiving the instruction and with sufficient acknowledgement. There is no quantitative limit in such circumstances but please note that such copying may not be reprographic (i.e. photocopied or scanned).
  • Examinations: reprographic copying (photocopying or scanning) is permissible without limit in setting and communicating questions to candidates, with the exception of reprographic copying of musical works.
  • Reprographic copying: The copying must be for educational purposes, with acknowledgement and must be of no more than 5% of a work in any calendar year. Please note that this 5% is an institutional limit, so this limit does not only apply to the person doing the copying. A book constitutes a "work". An issue of a journal constitutes a "work".

In addition to the copying permitted by the 2000 Act, a licensing scheme has been established for Irish higher education institutions, including DCU. The terms of this licence allow extended rights in certain areas as itemised below:

  • It is permitted to make multiple paper copies of licensed works for educational purposes. This includes distribution to student groups or classes, inclusion in course packs, and inclusion by libraries in reserve or short-loan collections;
  • The number of copies is limited to the number of students in a class plus two for each teacher;
  • The extent of such multiple copying is limited to 5% of a book or a chapter (the greater) or one article from any one periodical issue; and
  • Certain types of material (for example, music and separately published maps) are excluded, as are certain publishers, and material published in certain countries.

In the case of any doubt, staff should contact the University Librarian, John McDonough by email john.mcdonough@dcu.ie for more information on excluded materials.

DCU subscribes to many electronic information resources. The terms and conditions attaching to these subscriptions will govern what is permissible in relation to use of such materials. In the case of many subscription resources, the terms and conditions are governed by laws other than Irish law, and therefore reliance cannot always be placed on the exceptions to the strict rights of copyright set out in the 2000 Act.

In general, current staff and students alike of DCU may, in relation to such subscription resources:

  • search and retrieve items; and
  • print and/or download individual items for personal use for teaching, learning and research.
  • In most instances, the licence will not permit the following:
    • downloading of the substantial part of a database or the entire contents of a publication (this would include an entire journal issue)
    • multiple copying of items that have been printed out or downloaded;
    • distributing copies;
    • removing any proprietary marking or copyright statement from copy made; or
    • using electronic resources for commercial purposes.

Students and staff of DCU are reminded that they have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with copyright law when photocopying.
Even where a copy has been made in accordance with these terms and is therefore lawful, students and staff of DCU should expressly acknowledge the copyright in such material, including by referencing the copyright holder and the source.