Research students are generally able to rely on the 'fair dealing' provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 to copy extracts of materials for which they don't own the copyright. This is provided that the copying is of a 'reasonable portion' and for the purpose of 'research or study' only (note that this does not cover inclusion of the material in your final thesis).
To include such material in a printed or online thesis see the 'Using third party material in your thesis' tab in this guide.
A reasonable portion is generally considered to be:
There is no limit on the amount of work that you can reproduce for the purpose of criticism or review; however, it would be unusual to rely on this exception in most theses works. It is most likely that the use of copyright works when researching for a thesis will be under 'fair dealing' for research of study. If you are critiquing or reviewing you must meet the following criteria:
The word 'fair' is not defined in the Copyright Act. In practice the 'criticism or review' exception is likely to give you more protection if you only include short extracts as you review or critique them rather than quoting the complete work.
You can reproduce "insubstantial extracts" from a literary or dramatic work for your research or study purposes and incorporate them into your thesis without the need for permission from the copyright owner; however, the Copyright Act does not define "insubstantial" in these circumstances. A substantive portion of a work may be the most recognisable part of the work, or it may be an important, distinctive or essential part of the work.
All uses of copyright works must attribute the author(s) through a correctly formatted reference.
The 'fair dealing' provisions of the Copyright Act may not apply if you have the copyright owner's permission or if the material is subject to a contractual agreement. In these cases you will need to comply with the conditions under which permission was granted or the terms and conditions of the agreement.