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With its earliest roots in the UK, the concept of Fair Dealing is one that is shared in multiple countries. The exception for “fair dealing” came into law in South Africa in the 1970s around the same time that the Copyright Act in the USA made a provision for “fair use”.
While an imprecise exception, Fair Dealing (or Fair Use) allows certain works to be used or reproduced without permission from the copyright owner. Which certain works and for what purpose? There is no strict definition, but the courts consider “economic impact” to be a measure that defines this exception as unique in copyright law.
At its core, Fair Dealing is intended to provide students and non-commercial researchers more access to copyrighted works by permitting copies of short extracts from a copyrighted work for non-commercial research or private study, criticism or review, or report of current events. In each use, sufficient attribution must be cited. Photocopying, scanning, and file sharing is prohibited.
In two words: the church. There has been some misinterpretation on this issue. While sermons do reflect the teachings of the Lord, the law recognises a difference between the scholastic activities of a student or an academic researcher and the activities of the church. Specifically, that means the church is not covered under the exception of Fair Dealing.