Fair Dealing


Fair dealing refers to a legal concept that permits the limited use of copyrighted material without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. This concept is prevalent mainly in the UK, Canada, and other countries with a common law system. The use of copyrighted works usually falls under fair dealing when it is for the purposes of criticism, review, news reporting, research, or education and does not negatively impact the market value of the work.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Fair Dealing” is: /fɛr ‘diːlɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Fair Dealing is a set of exceptions to copyright infringement that allow for the use of copyrighted works without permission in certain circumstances, such as for research, private study, education, parody, or news reporting.
  2. Each country has its own fair dealing guidelines, with varying usage restrictions and conditions, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws in your specific location.
  3. To determine if a use of copyrighted material falls under fair dealing, courts typically consider factors such as the purpose of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount used, and the effect on the market for the original work.


Fair Dealing is important in technology as it promotes the growth of innovation, creativity, and knowledge-sharing while balancing the interests of content creators and users.

This legal doctrine allows for the limited use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission from the copyright holder, as long as that use can be characterized as one of the defined purposes, such as research, study, criticism, review, news reporting, and parody.

By providing some flexibility in the use of copyrighted works, Fair Dealing encourages the flow of ideas and supports the development of new technologies and creative products.

Furthermore, it ensures that legal restrictions do not inhibit educational and scholarly pursuits, fostering an environment conducive to collaboration, research, and progress.


Fair dealing is a concept in copyright law designed to strike a balance between the rights and interests of creative individuals and those of the wider public. Its main purpose is to ensure that intellectual property is not excessively privatized or monopolized, thereby enabling culture, innovation, and creativity to flourish.

The doctrine allows for the use of copyright-protected works in specific situations without infringing on the exclusive rights of the copyright-holder, such as for private study, research, criticism, journalism, parody, and satire. By doing so, fair dealing carves out essential spaces for the exchange of ideas and information, which in turn promotes educational and social development.

Though the scope and application of fair dealing varies from country to country, it generally serves as a framework for evaluating the impact of a particular use on the copyright holder and market competition. The real-world implications of fair dealing can be seen in instances of educational institutions and libraries providing course materials, media organizations producing news content, and amateur artists creating parodies of popular works.

These activities may be legally permissible, as long as they meet certain criteria, including the proportionality of the copyrighted material used, the transformative nature of the work, and the effect on the market value of the original work. While the doctrine of fair dealing has its detractors, who argue that it enables unwarranted exploitation of copyrighted works, it remains a vital principle that nurtures the growth of art, science, and technology in the public interest.

Examples of Fair Dealing

Fair Dealing is a concept in copyright law that allows for the limited use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission from the copyright holder, as long as the use is deemed fair and justified. Here are three real-world examples of how Fair Dealing can be applied:

Educational Use: Teachers and students might use copyrighted materials, such as a paragraph from a book or a short clip from a movie, for educational purposes in a classroom setting. In this case, the use is considered fair because it advances education and understanding of a concept, without significantly affecting the commercial interests of the copyright holder.

News Reporting: Journalists and news organizations often rely on Fair Dealing to report on current events. They might incorporate quotes, images, or video clips from copyrighted sources to provide context or support for their stories. In such cases, Fair Dealing permits the use of copyrighted materials for the purpose of disseminating information to the public without violating copyright rights.

Parody and Satire: Artists and content creators may use copyrighted materials to create parodies, spoofs, or satirical works. This form of expression often necessitates incorporating elements from the original work to effectively convey their message or invoke the desired humor. Fair Dealing allows for this use as long as the new work does not negatively impact the market value of the original copyright-protected material or excessively reproduce its content.

Fair Dealing FAQ

1. What is Fair Dealing?

Fair dealing is a legal doctrine that allows the use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances. It is essential for freedom of expression and encourages creativity and innovation.

2. How is Fair Dealing different from Fair Use?

While both Fair Dealing and Fair Use refer to exceptions to copyright infringement, Fair Dealing is primarily used in some countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, while Fair Use is applied in the United States. Fair Dealing generally has specific categories, while Fair Use provides more flexible guidelines.

3. What are the factors to consider in Fair Dealing?

Factors may vary depending on the country’s copyright law. Common considerations include the purpose and nature of the use, the amount of the copyrighted work used, and the effect on the market for the original work.

4. Can educational institutions use copyrighted material under Fair Dealing?

Yes, educational institutions may be permitted to use copyrighted material for teaching purposes under Fair Dealing, depending on the jurisdiction and specific rules. However, the extent to which copyrighted material can be used varies between countries.

5. How do content creators respond to Fair Dealing claims?

Content creators may challenge Fair Dealing claims if they believe their copyrighted work is being used without proper authorization. In these cases, the matter can be resolved through negotiations, legal action, or alternative dispute resolution.

Related Technology Terms

  • Copyright Exceptions
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Limitations and Exceptions
  • Permitted Use
  • Transformative Use

Sources for More Information


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