- Powered by Yip Tse & Tang, Solicitors & Notaries 葉謝鄧律師行


Provisions on permitted acts under education environment can be very confusing. The following are acts that do not infringe copyright. These must be read in conjunction with the exact provisions in the Copyright Ordinance:

1. Copying a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work in the course of instruction by the person giving or receiving instruction so long as a reprographic process is not used. This could cover teachers writing material on the board or presenting teaching materials by Powerpoint etc. It also includes students making their own copies by writing, painting, typing and so on. The copying is limited to 'reasonable extent' only. Meaning of 'reasonable extent' is not defined in the Ordinance and hence must be judged according to the circumstances of each case. This permitted act is not confined to educational establishment. Reprographic copying must be done by educational establishment.

2. Anything done for the purpose of setting or answering examination questions. (This does not cover photocopying music that is to be performed in an examination.) This permitted act is not confined to educational establishment; nor there is a limitation of 'reasonable extent'.

3. The performance, playing or showing of copyright works in the activities in an educational establishment, but only where teachers, pupils and others directly connected with the activities of the establishment are in the audience. The latter includes parents. Playing or showing of a sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme before such an audience at an educational establishment for the purposes of instruction is NOT a playing or showing of the work in public.

4. Recording a broadcast or cable programme for the educational purposes of an educational establishment where there is no licensing scheme. An acknowledgement of authorship or other creative effort contained in the work recorded has to be included in the recording.

5. Making reprographic copies from literary, dramatic or musical works by or on behalf of an educational establishment (as defined under the Copyright Ordinance in Schedule 1) for the purposes of instruction where there is no licensing scheme. This is however limited to 'reasonable extent' only.

Exceptions or Permitted Acts

A number of exceptions permits limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner. For example, limited use of works may be possible for research and private study, criticism or review, reporting news ('fair dealing'), judicial proceedings, teaching in schools and other educational establishments . In the latter situation, copying within 'reasonable extent'.

Copying large amounts of material and/or making multiple copies cannot be an exception and thus need permission. Also where a copyright exception covers publication of excerpts from a copyright work, it is generally necessary to include an acknowledgement. Sometimes more than one exception may apply to the use you are thinking of.

It is important to remember that just owning a copy of a copyright work does not give you permission to use it in a way that would infringe copyright. If your use of a copyright work does not involve using a substantial part, then you will not be infringing copyright. But it is important to remember that even very small parts of a copyright work may count as a substantial part. Exceptions to copyright do not generally give you rights to use copyright material; they just state that certain activities do not infringe copyright. So it is possible that an exception could be overridden by a contract you have agreed limiting your ability to do things that would otherwise fall within the scope of an exception. Therefore, reviewing the terms of the licence is necessary for making a decision.