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Copyright Guidelines for Staff & Students of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS): What Can Students Copy?

This LibGuide provides definitions, legislation and procedures for copyright clearance for teaching and research purposes.

Copying by Students


A Student:

  • May make a copy for the purposes of research or private study, or for personal or private use, in terms of "fair dealing" (Section 12 of the Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978, as amended). Although not specified in the copyright legislation, publishers generally permit 10% or one chapter from a book, or one article of a journal, to be copied for these purposes, obviously having regard to the totality and meaning of the work. However, copying just one page may not be fair in some instances, e.g. where it is the crux or essence of the work.  One has to use one's discretion when using other people's copyright work. 
  • May make a single copy for a lecturer , at his/her request, for research, teaching or preparation for teaching in a class, within certain parameters set out in the current Copyright Regulations
  • May make a back-up copy of a computer program, ONLY if he/she is in lawful possession of that computer program, or an authorized copy thereof, and the copy so made is intended exclusively for personal or private purposes . Such copy must be destroyed when the possession of the computer program in question, or authorized copy thereof, ceases to be lawful. (Section 19B of SA Copyright Act).


A Student :

  • May not copy more than the permitted amounts, as specified above. If he/she needs to copy more than this, prior permission must be obtained directly from the publisher or from the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation - DALRO (Tel. No. 011-712-8000/8377)
  • May not make multiple copies for other students. Each student must make his/her own copies, within the legal limits.
  • May not plagiarize someone else s work or ideas, whether from print or electronic sources. Full credit must be given to the author(s) and publisher(s) when quoting from material or when reproducing material.
  • May not scan, adapt, translate or convert information into different formats, without prior permission,
  • May not place copyright works onto a webpage, without prior permission.
  • May not photocopy a whole book or journal, or a large portion thereof. This is unlawful and has a detrimental effect on intellectual creativity, scholarship, research, writing and publishing. If a book is out-of-print, prior permission has to be obtained, before reproducing any portion of the work, beyond the ambit of "fair dealing".
  • May not reproduce sheet music, videos, tapes, CDs, DVDs, films, sound recordings, etc. without prior permission.

N.B. The above restrictions/prohibitions on copying also apply to staff or any other individuals. 


Also see Tab "When is Permission Required?" with regard to inclusion of copyright material in theses/dissertation at Wits.