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This guide provides information for students and staff so they can familiarise themselves with copyright and comply with the copyright legisation.


Copyright legislation (in the UK the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended) protects certain 'works' and allows the copyright owner to control the ways in which they may legally be used. 'Works' range from literary works (books; lecture notes, etc.) and images (from those on YouTube to those in hard copy form), to sound recordings.

Unless granted permission via educational exception or special licence works protected by copyright cannot be reproduced, distributed, downloaded or otherwise used without the explicit permission of the copyright owner. For example, when you buy a DVD you buy the right to watch the film, but you can't copy the recording. The same is true of images. Always assume that any work (text, image etc.) that you have purchased or obtained for free, whether in print or online, is protected by copyright. Be mindful that you will normally be restricted in how you can use other people's works and need to ensure you have the correct permission to do so.

If you use works protected copyright without permission, you will be breaking the law (a serious copyright infringement can result in criminal charges against those involved) and you could cause serious reputational damage to yourself and the University. Copyright compliance is the responsibility of all members of the University.

The University creates quantities of copyright works. The University and its staff and students also routinely receive and use copyright works belonging to other people. All students and staff should therefore familiarise themselves with and comply with the information contained on these pages.

If you have a general copyright related query please contact the library in first instance by sending an email to

What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal protection which gives the owner of certain 'works' the right to control how the works may be used. 'Works' range from literary works and images, to sound and video recordings, as detailed below.

Copyright gives the copyright owner certain exclusive rights. Generally, the following acts are only allowed with the owner's permission, (subject to some exceptions):-

  • reproducing and most forms of copying of or from the work
  • publicly performing, transmitting or broadcasting the work
  • adapting the work
  • translating the work
  • issuing the work or providing copies of the work to the public.

In many cases, the work's creator will also have the right to be identified as the author and to object to distortions or derogatory treatment of his/her work, (these are know as 'moral rights'). These moral rights can apply even if someone other than the creator owns the works, (e.g. their employer).

What 'works' attract copyright

Copyright is an automatic right (so it doesn't have to be registered or formally applied for). It applies to the following types of work:

  • Literary works - this includes academic publications, novels, text books, short stories, essays, written teaching material, commercial documents, pamphlets, articles, newsletters, leaflets, poems, manuscripts, manuals, song lyrics, computer programs etc.
  • Artistic creations - this includes photography, paintings, sculptures, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps, logos, sketches etc.
  • Sound recordings - this includes the recordings of other copyright works, e.g. musical and literary.
  • Film - this includes video footage, clips from You-Tube, films, broadcasts etc.
  • Typographical - this includes the layout of magazines, periodicals and other published material.
  • Dramatic works - this includes things like plays and dance.
  • Musical writings - this includes recordings and score etc.

How does copyright arise

For copyright to arise, the work must be sufficiently original (e.g. not directly copied or adapted from an existing work) and the work must exhibit some degree of labour, skill or some kind of personal judgement in its creation. Ideas are not protected by copyright, (so an idea you had for a book would not attract copyright), but once the idea was written down, copyright would exist in the written version.

As soon as someone creates any protected work, (e.g. X writes a short story) it is automatically protected by copyright.

Copyright cannot arise in respect of any part of a work which is a copy or which is taken from a previous work even though you have permission to reproduce it. For example, if you include a poem that has been written by someone else in your short story, the copyright of that particular poem would remain with the original author.

Who owns the copyright

Normally the individual author or creator will own the copyright in the work. However, if a person produces work as part of their employment, the copyright will normally belong to their employer. The position at the University is outlined in our Intellectual Property Policy The University owns copyright of some intellectual property arising from work undertaken by staff in the course of their employment, while copyright in 'scholarly output' produced by staff usually belongs to the staff themselves. Scholarly output includes things like lecture notes and academic publications. Once a work has been published, the copyright often passes to the publisher. Copyright in any work produced by a student normally belongs to the student who created it.

The copyright in freelance or commissioned work will usually belong to the author of the work, (i.e. a bride and groom will normally receive copies of their favourite wedding photos but the professional photographer will usually retain the copyright in the pictures). However any agreement entered into, (i.e. the contract for service) may vary this. If you are arranging for any works to be created for the University, you may wish to seek advice from the Legal Office and consider asking for the copyright to belong to the University, (i.e. so that the work can continue to be used and potentially updated by the University).

Just like any other asset, copyright can be sold by the owner to someone else.

Duration of copyright

The duration of copyright varies from country to country. The Berne Convention (international law) dictates a minimum duration that states who have signed up to it (including the UK) should grant in their national laws.

Normal protection provided by the Berne Convention is for the lifetime of the individual who created the work plus fifty years, with the following exceptions:

  • Film, cinematographic work: 50 years from date the work was made or made available to the public.
  • Anonymous works: at least 25 years from creation.

In the UK most work is protected for longer than the Berne minimum.

  • The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act allows for copyright protection to last 70 years after the author dies, for literary works and film.
  • And for other works, like sound recordings and broadcasts, the copyright is 50 years from the year the work was created or broadcasted.
  • Typographical copyrights ends 25 years from the year when it was first published.

Using other people's work

If you intend to use someone else's work, please ensure that you can do so lawfully. If you are in doubt please seek advice.

Please liaise with the Library if you wish to include copies of someone else's work in teaching materials, as the safest and most advisable way to do so, is to access the material via the Library through a permitted route, (e.g. through a licencing scheme).

1. Fair Dealing and Education Exceptions

Fair dealing is a term used to consider whether a use of copyrighted material is lawful or not. There is no legal definition of fair dealing - it will always be a matter of fact, degree and impression in each case. This can be complex and will depend on what the work is being used for, the nature of the copyrighted work itself and the amount being used.

Questions which should be considered are:

How would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?

Does using the work affect the market for the original work? If a use of a work acts as a substitute for it, causing the rights holder to lose revenue, then it is not 'fair'.

Is the amount taken reasonable and appropriate? Was it necessary to use the amount taken - usually only a part of a work may be used.

All of the educational exceptions that may permit works to be used without a licence are subject to an overriding fair dealing requirement (see guidelines below).

All the the educational exceptions also require there to be sufficient acknowledgement of the copyright work and the author.

The Intellectual Property office offers guidance on exceptions to copyright

The following extent limits are often given as guidelines on the extent of copying which might be considered to be 'fair dealing', but please note that an acceptable amount could be less, depending on the nature of the work or the importance of the part of the work copied:-

No more than:

5% of a work, or

One chapter of a book, or

One article from a journal issue, or

One paper from a set of conference proceedings.

The main educational exceptions relevant to the University are:

  • Private study or non-commercial research The purpose of this exception is to allow students and researchers undertaking private study or non-commercial research to make limited copies of all types of copyright work, irrespective of medium type.

  • Teaching/Instruction Allows the copying from works in any medium as along as the use is solely to illustrate a point, is not done for commercial purposes and the audience is limited to teachers/instructors/members of the class and other directly connected with the activities of the establishment.

  • Copying & recording, extracts by Educational Establishments Universities can use this exemption to make copies of very small amounts of a work in any given year, for the purposes of non-commercial instruction, provided that there is no licence available that would otherwise allow the work to be used. It is therefore important to check whether the work you would like to use can be obtained under a licence first. The total amount of a particular work that may be copied under this exception in any one year, will often be in the region of 5% of the whole work, (but this could be even less if the bit being copied was a particularly significant part of the work). Library staff should undertake the copying, so that a record can be kept.

  • Criticism, review and quotation This exception is of relevance to scholarly publications and teaching. For the copying to be considered to be 'fair' it requires that that amount taken and the effect on the market of the original work must be and that no more is copied than needed to illustrate or support the criticism. For quotation, the amount copied must be no more than required for the specific purpose the quotation is being used for. A useful test for consideration of fairness is whether the use provides some social, cultural or information benefit. It is the exception that may sometimes be relied upon in relation to exam questions.

  • Disability This exception allows copying so that a disabled person can have a better or more enjoyable access to copyrighted works. However, this exception only applies to the extent that suitable copies are not commercially available.

2. When a licence permits its use

There are a number of agencies that operate licencing schemes and collect royalties on behalf of copyright owners. These agencies provide licences for universities to allow specific educational use of the copyright works which they are authorised to licence.

The University subscribes to several of these licencing schemes including: the CLA (Copyright Licencing Agency) Higher Education Licence which allows copying of extracts from print and digital publications in the library's collections for use in teaching (but please note that copies to be made available electronically, must be obtained and recorded by library staff); the ERA Licence (Educational Recording Agency) which permits educational use of Copyright protected work from radio and television programmes; and the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) licence.

Members of the University will only be able to use other people's works lawfully under a licence scheme, if they comply fully with the terms of the particular licences. For example, the terms will often stipulate that hard copy works may only be scanned and electronically available works may only be stored and digitised by 'designated persons' (e.g. Library staff) and that they may only be made available to 'authorised persons' (e.g. registered students on a particular course of study). The extent of the permitted copying may also be restricted. For example, the proportion of a work that can be copied under the terms of our CLA licence consists of whichever is the greater of 5% or

  • One chapter of a book
  • One article of a journal issue
  • One paper of one set of conference proceedings
  • One report of a single case from a report of judicial proceedings.

The library can advise on the terms of these licences and ensure compliance.

CLA Higher Education Licence (Library Scanning Service Guide)



3. If permission has been granted

If the copyright owner has given you explicit permission to use the work, you will be able to do so legally. However you should be cautious and ensure that any person you approach for consent is actually the true copyright owner of the work. For example a publisher rather than the original author may own copyright in a work. You also need to ensure that the person who has produced the work is not infringing any third party's rights themselves. Don't simply assume that because someone has put something on YouTube for example, that they own the copyright in it.

4. If the copyright has expired

When the term of copyright protection has expired, the work will no longer be protected by copyright. At the point the work will be in the public domain, which means that it is public property and may be used freely.

Intellectual property policy

  • Revised Intellectual Property Policy

The University's Intellectual Property Policy has been revised following consultation with the trade unions and Students' Union. The revised policy (which comprises Ordinance 22) was approved by Council on the recommendation of Senate, on 9 July 2015 and took effect immediately.

The Policy was reviewed at the recommendation of Internal Audit. The opportunity was also taken to update and refine the policy in the light of experience. The main changes made to the policy relate to the recording of lectures and deal with the related copyright issues.

Additional guidance detailing IP issues that you need to be aware of if your lecture is being recorded is also now available for staff.


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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