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Guide to Copyright: Educational Use of Copyright Material

What is permitted?

There are exemptions in Irish copyright law that permit limited use of copyright material by students, researchers, faculty and library staff, under certain conditions.  In addition, there are licences which the university pays for, that permit the use of certain copyright material in UL for educational purposes, again under certain conditions and restrictions.

Examination and instruction

Copyright is not infringed by anything done for the purposes of an examination, by way of setting questions, communicating questions to the candidates or answering questions.  The preparation of theses may be included as being under preparation for examination, however the exemption would not cover subsequent publishing of the thesis.  Reprographic copying of a musical work for use by an examination candidate in performing the work is not allowed.

Educational establishments may make unlimited use of copyrighted materials in the course of instruction (lectures, tutorials, etc.) or in preparation for instruction without infringing copyright, as long as the copying is not reprographic.  Reprographic copying for oneself is covered by fair dealing and for groups is covered by higher education copyright licences.

University photocopiers, printers & scanners

The provision of self service photocopiers, printers or scanners by the university is acceptable, as long as the equipment is not used to make infringing copies.  It is important that all students and staff using such facilities are aware of Irish copyright law and the limitations it places on them as individuals.  Clear notices should be placed at each photocopier/printer giving relevant details of the Act and the relevant licences.

Reprographic copying

Use or reproduction of copyright material by individuals for research and private study is allowed under the fair dealing exemption in Irish law.  Fair dealing has no exact 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 single copying for oneself under the following conditions:

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

Refer to sections 50-51 of the Act for further information.

The University of Limerick holds a licence from the Irish Copyright Licencing Agency (ICLA) which permits members of the institution to make multiple copies of extracts from books, journals and periodicals, under a set of conditions. The licence covers the copying of extracts for the compilation of course packs for both on-campus and distance students. For details of the countries covered by the licence, as well as the licence conditions and exclusions, refer to

The ICLA licence allows multiple copying for groups of UL students/staff under the following conditions:

  • Copying must be for the educational purposes of UL.
  • There is a limit of one copy for each student in the class, plus 2 copies for the teacher at any one time.
  • Every copy must be accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement such as bibliographic citation.
  • The copied material must not exceed:
    • One complete chapter or 5% of a book, whichever is greater
    • One article from a periodical or journal
    • The whole of a short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length from an anthology

The ICLA licence does not cover:

  • Multiple copying of items specified in the list of Excluded Works on the ICLA website.
  • Multiple copying of maps, charts, artistic works, books of tables, printed music or newspapers.

Copying of newspapers is covered by a separate licence, operated by the Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd. This licence covers the copying of any article, report, part or extract of a newspaper.  Scanning and circulating an electronic copy of a newspaper extract is permitted as long as the copy is deleted from the system 30 days after the date of publication. Further information about the NLI licence is available at

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

Performance & media

Performing a literary, dramatic or musical work is permitted, as is playing or showing a sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme at an educational establishment for the purpose of instruction, as long as the audience is limited to teachers and pupils of the establishment or other persons directly connected with the activities of the establishment. 

Refer to sections 53-58 of the Act for further information.

Copyright queries

This overview of copyright is for students and staff of the University of Limerick.  It is not a complete guide and should not be taken as legal advice.  Copyright queries may be directed to Cora Gleeson Librarian, Collection Services or Ciara McCaffrey, Deputy Librarian, Glucksman Library.