Guide to commonly-used copyright terms Guide to commonly-used copyright terms

Fair Dealing

'Fair Dealing' is the term used to confirm that the use of copyright material is legitimate. While the phrase has no legal definition, it is considered to apply when the amount used is appropriate (i.e. not excessive) and does not infringe on the copyright owner's ability to benefit financially from that work. For example, if you copy a work in entirety it removes the need to purchase that work. This is unlikely to be considered fair. Further information can be found on the Intellectual Property Office website.


Copyright licences facilitate the legal re-use of copyright work. If an organisation subscribes to a relevant licencing scheme it may be able to use copyright works in ways that would otherwise infringe copyright. Individuals and organisations can also license their own copyright material, setting out ways in which that work can be reused by others. For information on UEA licences see Copyright: Essential information.

Moral rights

Creators of copyright work can choose to exercise certain 'moral rights': the right to be identified as the author or director of the work (sometimes known as the right of paternity), the right to object to derogatory treatment of that work (the right of integrity), and the right not to have someone else's work falsely attributed to them. Moral rights are automatic and cannot - unlike copyright - be assigned or sold.

Orphan work

An orphan work is a work in which copyright exists, but where the copyright owner cannot be identified or traced. Useful information on orphan works can be found on the Copyright User website.

Rights holder

The rights holder or rights holders own the copyright in a particular work. Copyright can be assigned or sold, so the rights holder is not necessarily the creator of a work.