Copying, printing and copyright in libraries

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Nearly all libraries have a photocopier, and some libraries have computers with scanners so you can make electronic copies. There are charges for copying and printing.

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What you can copy

There are limits on what you can copy under copyright law. This includes photocopying and scanning items, and downloading and printing documents from the Internet.

Copying may only be carried out if it is:

  • fair dealing (not substantial)
  • for private study or research for a non-commercial purpose
  • a single copy.

Where you quote from work you have copied, or use copies of illustrations, you should acknowledge the author or source.

Check copyright notices on publications and websites to see if explicit permission has been given to make more copies than listed below. See the national guidance on copyright.

How much you can copy

  • Books
    One complete chapter to a maximum of 5% of the work.
  • Short books
    Up to 10% or 20 pages, whichever is lesser.
  • Periodicals
    One article from an issue or if a very small item, one A4 or the contents page.
  • Poems
    Only when in a collection or anthology to a maximum of 10 pages.
  • Music
    Short extracts for study only, not for performance.
  • Illustrations
    Only if they illustrate or form part of an article or extract.
  • Photographs
    Only for private or domestic use.
  • Slides
    Not permitted.
  • Yellow Pages
    One page or one classified section.
  • Electoral registers
    Full register after December 2001 must not be photocopied.
    Full register up to and including February 2001 has no restrictions.
    Edited register must not be photocopied but handwritten notes can be made.
  • Maps
    During copyright period up to four copies of a single A4 sized extract for non-commercial research or private study – Ordnance Survey maps are in copyright for 50 years after the year of publication, and Goad plans (shopping centre maps) are in copyright for 70 years after the year of publication.
  • Government publications
    The following publications can be copied without restriction unless for personal or commercial gain – Hansard, bills, acts, statutory instruments, statutory rules and orders, command papers, reports of Select Committees and press releases.