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Copying works

Copying a work, on request, for the purpose of research or private study

The school library may, if requested by a student or teacher, make a copy of a reasonable portion of a literary, dramatic or musical work (and any artistic work included in the part of the work copied under this provision) for that student or teacher for the purpose of research or private study, without infringing copyright in the literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or the typographic arrangement of the published edition from which the work was copied.

Note that this provision does not permit a library staff member to make a copy of a computer program.

Only one copy may be made for the person requesting it and the copying must amount to fair dealing with the work.

The following factors (relating to the general fair dealing section of the Copyright Act) should be taken into account under this provision:

  • the purpose of the copying
  • the nature of the work copied
  • whether the work could have been obtained within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price
  • the effect of the copying on the potential market for, or value of, the work
  • the amount and substantiality of the part of the work copied in relation to the whole work.

More than one article in a journal may be copied if the articles are about the same (micro) subject. For example, two articles in one issue of The Journal of Volcanoes on the Mt Krakatoa eruption will be on a "same subject" and may be copied together.

No making a master copy, or copying 'in anticipation' of a request

The library may not, for example, place a copy of a popular article on reserve in anticipation of students wishing to copy it themselves under the general fair dealing section of the Copyright Act. Also, the library staff may not make a copy of a work in anticipation of a student or teacher requesting a copy of that work for the purpose of their research or private study.

However, such copying in anticipation is allowed if the school has a CLNZ licence to copy literary works.

Copying from a copy held on closed reserve

When a work may be damaged by heavy use (such as a prescribed text or a regular project resource), you may want to protect the original.

In the first instance, the library should attempt to purchase an additional copy. Where it is not reasonably practicable to buy an additional copy, the library may make a copy of the whole work and place it in the collection of the library. The copy must be catalogued and labelled as "Copy made under section 55 of the Copyright Act".

This copy can then be treated as a legitimate original and may be copied by students and teachers in the same way as if it were the original. The Copyright Act does not permit placing photocopies on closed reserve in any other way.

Copying out-of-print works

If the library has tried for six months to source a work (for example, a book) and can't get a copy at an ordinary commercial price, it may request another library to make a copy of the work for them.

It is good practice to catalogue and label the copy as "Copy made under section 55 of the Copyright Act".

The library staff, to whom the copy is supplied, must keep a record of the copying. The copyright owner is entitled to claim a fair remuneration for the work copied, from the library staff to whom the work is supplied.

Electronic copies

It is not clear whether libraries may make copies according to the above exceptions (for the purpose of teachers' and students' individual research and private study or for educational purposes) in electronic format, or whether they may store or transport such copies by electronic means.

Until the law is clarified, libraries may prefer to avoid the risk liability for copyright infringement by copying, storing, and transporting works in hard copy format only.


When a student or teacher wants to view or copy an article from the school library and the library does not hold the journal containing that article, the library may request a copy from another library under the library interloan scheme. The library may only give the interloaned copy to the person who requested it, who may copy the article for the purpose of their own research or private study, but must not make further copies of the article.


Each library photocopier should have a practical and visible sign giving guidance to users about their fair dealing rights. Educating students about the school's copyright policy and copyright legislation generally should be an important part of a student's library orientation each year.

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) has a collection of resources about copyright issues that schools and libraries can use - guidelines, training tools, advice, useful links, and more.