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Plagiarism and Copyright

A brief overview of how to avoid plagiarism and copyright infringement

What is copyright?

In Ireland, copyright law is contained in the Copyright & Related Rights Act, 2000.

Copyright gives the creators of works automatic economic and moral rights over their creations. There are exceptions to copyright protection such as insubstantial copying, fair dealing and educational uses as detailed to the right. 

The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency summarise some basic principles below:

  1. Copyright applies automatically when something is created

  2. The © is only a reminder and not a requirement

  3. Everything that is created is protected by copyright, including:-

    • Print material – books, journals, magazines, newspapers;

    • Computer Programmes;

    • Dramatic performances – plays, choreography, film scripts;

    • Music – compositions, sheet music, performances;

    • Art – drawings, paintings, maps, charts, diagrams and much more;

    • Page layouts

  4. Copyright lasts beyond the author’s lifetime … plus 70 years

 For more details on copyright click here.

Exceptions to copyright

Insubstantial copying
In order to infringe the author’s copyright, a “substantial” part of the work must have been copied. Insubstantial copying is therefore permitted. Because it is impossible to say with certainty what is meant by “substantial” in any given situation, users are often reluctant to rely on this exemption. Equally however, authors litigate at some risk.

Fair dealing
A work may be used by anyone for the purposes of research or private study without the permission of the author, provided the use is conducted in a way which does not prejudice the rights of the copyright owner. The work may also be used for criticism or review or for reporting current events, with the same proviso, and provided further that the use of the work is accompanied by an acknowledgement identifying the author and the title of the work.

This bundle of exceptions is known as “fair dealing”. Although the legislation does not state the fact, it is unlikely that the making of multiple copies of a work will ever qualify as fair dealing.

Educational uses
The use of author’s works for certain educational purposes is permitted. These include the use of the work in examinations, and the inclusion of a short passage from the work in an anthology for schools.



Please note that  this guide was made for the students and staff of Marino Institute of Education, is not a complete guide and should not be taken as legal advice.

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