Fair Dealing

What Does Fair Dealing Mean?

Fair dealing refers to an exception to exclusive rights exceptions that apply to copyright holders in Commonwealth nations like Canada, the U.K. and Australia. This term is largely synonymous with the doctrine of fair use in the U.S. Fair dealing slightly limits the rights of copyright holders by allowing users to copy certain protected works for educational and public information purposes, such as news reporting, individual study, research and review.


Fair dealing is a concept designed to expound on copyright laws while providing exceptions, rather than defenses, for an individual’s use of digital media. Unauthorized uses, or uses beyond good faith, are typically considered against the grain of fair dealing.

Techopedia Explains Fair Dealing

Fair dealing aims to strike a reasonable and proportionate balance between the rights of users and those of copyright owners.

Though similar, fair dealing is less lenient than the fair use law in the U.S. However, as time has passed, the gap between fair use and fair dealing has gradually narrowed to provide a reasonable balance between user and owner rights.

Fair dealing includes exceptions but offers finite user purposes and specific user adherence. Hence, the concept does not afford much leeway to a user that copies protected digital media.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.