Library and Learning Services
FAQ on the basics of what you can and can't do without breaching copyright.
- How long does copyright last?
- How much can I copy to use as a quotation?
- What is 'fair dealing'?
- What copyright licences does the University hold?
- How do I get permission to use material that is not covered by the University’s licences or by exceptions to the Copyright, Design and Patents Act?
- How long does it take to get copyright clearance?
- Can I use copyright-protected materials in my learning, teaching and assessment practice?
- Can I use copyright material in my Blackboard module?
- Can the items on my reading list be made available electronically?
- Do I need copyright clearance to scan in images of book covers?
- What images or photographs can I use in my Powerpoint presentations?
- What about using musical extracts in Powerpoint?
- My Powerpoint presentation contains photographs and images that I have downloaded from the web; can I share them with colleagues outside DMU?
- As a student, what do I need to know about copyright (and why)?
- My students download images, music and photographs from the web and use them in their coursework; is that acceptable?
- How can I stop students sharing their coursework (containing copyright protected material) on the web with friends and family?
- Am I or DMU liable if students put DMU assignments/work on the web which contains copyright materials?
- What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?
- Are there implications to Intellectual Property Rights and Licensing when creating digital content?
1. How long does copyright last?
This varies depending on the type of material. Copyright in literary and artistic works lasts for 70 years after the death of the author or creator, but you should check the detailed guidance on copyright duration in respect of other media. Note that in multimedia resources, multiple copyright durations can apply.
2. How much can I copy to use as a quotation?
There are no legally defined limits, though there are some generally accepted guidelines on use of quotations. The important thing to remember is that any quotation from someone else’s work, whatever the length, should always be properly referenced.
3. What is 'fair dealing'?
Fair dealing is a concept which allows you as an individual to make a single copy of a "reasonable proportion" of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works for your own private study or non-commercial research. The actual amount you can copy under fair dealing has never been specifically defined in law, but there are guidelines which you are advised to follow.
4. What copyright licences does the University hold?
The Library, on behalf of the University, subscribes to the licences below. Each licence is subject to strict terms and conditions, and you should consult the detailed guidance before copying.
- Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Photocopying and Scanning Licence (books and journals)
- Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence (off-air recording of free-to-air broadcasts)
- Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) Licence (national, and some local, newspapers)
- Open University Licensing Scheme (broadcasts of OU programmes)
- Ordnance Survey (OS maps)
5. How do I get permission to use material that is not covered by the University’s licences or by exceptions to the Copyright, Design and Patents Act?
Usually, you will need to contact the copyright owner, who may or may not be the author or creator of the work you wish to copy (for text-based materials, for example, this is often the publisher), or there may be an agent who acts as intermediary. The Library may be able to help you with this, or you may prefer to seek permission yourself.
6. How long does it take to get copyright clearance?
The length of time varies depending on the copyright holder. Generally allow 3 months. Obtaining permission for electronic environments takes longer than obtaining paper clearances as there is still a feeling of unease and caution amongst publishers.
7. Can I use copyright-protected materials in my learning, teaching and assessment practice?
Yes, provided that the material you wish to use is covered by one of the copyright licences we hold. These will cover much of what you wish to do in terms of providing multiple copies from books and newspapers; playing of films and off-air recordings in class; digitising printed materials for inclusion in your Blackboard module; or including images in your Powerpoint presentation. Each licence is subject to strict terms and conditions. Whenever you use third-party copyright material, you must make sure it is properly acknowledged.
Anything which you use for examination purposes, with any kind of work, does not infringe copyright. The one exception to this is copying of sheet music for performance by the candidate.
8. Can I use copyright material in my Blackboard module?
Yes, provided that the material you wish to use is covered by one of the copyright licences we hold. The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Photocopying and Scanning Licence will allow you to include digital extracts from many books and journals. Note that the licence is subject to strict conditions. See Digitising materials for use in Blackboard for more guidance.
You can use URLs to link to electronic and web-based resources but should not cut and paste information into your site from another site without permission from the copyright holder. Refer to the section on Copyright and the internet for guidance.
Note that our current ERA licence does not allow extracts from off-air recordings (audio or video) to be used in Blackboard even though it is password-protected, since it is accessible off-campus.
See Copying of artistic works for more information on the use of images and photographs.
Always give appropriate acknowledgment for what you use, and if in doubt, seek permission.
9. Can the items on my reading list be made available electronically?
Increasingly, it is possible to link direct to articles within electronic journals subscribed to by the library. Contact your subject librarian for further information.
10. Do I need copyright clearance to scan in images of book covers?
A book cover is classed as an artistic work and copyright permission would be required.
11. What images or photographs can I use in my Powerpoint presentations?
Provided it is for teaching purposes, you can include a copy or an extract from an image in your presentation to accompany a lecture, but it must be acknowledged. This also applies to images downloaded from a legitimate website. However, unless you have permission, or the copying is covered by licence, you should not include copies of such images in handouts.
See Copying of artistic works for more information on the use of images and photographs.
12. What about using musical extracts in Powerpoint?
You can copy a sound recording if the purpose is for criticism and review, as long as the recording is properly acknowledged. You can also copy sound recordings (and films) for the purposes of teaching film and sound-recording production or for examination purposes. If you just wish to include music as background for your presentation, this is not covered by the educational exception. This would count as a performance, for which a specific licence is required. The University does not have a blanket licence for this, so you would need to check in your faculty. You should also ensure that any such extracts are not able to be copied further (or “dealt with”); this would make them infringing copies. Note that downloading music files from the internet without permission of the rightsholder is illegal.
13. My Powerpoint presentation contains photographs and images that I have downloaded from the web; can I share them with colleagues outside DMU?
This would not be advisable, unless you have permission from the copyright owner. It would be better in this instance to direct colleagues to the image on the web.
14. As a student, what do I need to know about copyright (and why)?
Almost all the learning resources that you use as a student – books, periodicals, videos, software, etc. – will be covered by copyright, which mean that you cannot copy it unless you have permission from the copyright owner or it falls within the limits allowed for “fair dealing”. The University has a responsibility to ensure that its students are fully aware of the principles of the law. Students are responsible for making sure they do not break the law. It is also important that, as a student, you understand and develop good academic practice. Obeying copyright law and licences will also help you from falling into the trap of plagiarism, which is a disciplinary offence at the University. See the section on Copyright for students for a summary of the main things of which you need to be aware.
15. My students download images, music and photographs from the web and use them in their coursework; is that acceptable?
Materials available on the web are protected by copyright in the same way as other media, though are much more accessible and easier to manipulate. It would be acceptable to include images and photographs downloaded from the web, provided that these are only for use in coursework, are suitably referenced and acknowledged, and do not exceed the Fair Dealing guidelines.
Downloading music files from the internet without permission of the rightsholder is illegal.
16. How can I stop students sharing their coursework (containing copyright protected material) on the web with friends and family?
This is very difficult to do in practice. You should emphasise to them at the start of your module the legal pitfalls of doing this if you feel it is likely, and the possible penalties. They are potentially liable under the law – and could be sued – if found to be distributing third-party copyright materials. They are also potentially in breach of the University’s own regulations. Chapter 2, annex 2 explicitly prohibits “the distribution [.....] of documentation or media to or from any third party or parties” without specific written agreement of the University. Chapter 12 (3) requires all students to comply with copyright law and licences. Breach of either of these regulations can result in disciplinary action.
17. Am I or DMU liable if students put DMU assignments/work on the web which contains copyright materials?
The student would be liable, but the University could possibly be liable for secondary infringement by “permitting use of premises or apparatus for infringing performances”. There is also some concern that the Digital Economy Bill currently going through Parliament (March 2010) may make universities (amongst others) responsible for what is done using their free wi-fi networks, including, for example, making pirate copies of music and films. There could at least be reputational damage to the University arising from copyright abuse by its students.
18. What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?
A broad definition of an OER is any type of learning or teaching material which is freely available over the World Wide Web for anyone – staff or student – to use, usually with attribution to the originator of the material. OERs may be whole courses or modules, or might include single lectures, assignments, activities or simulations, and they may include text, multimedia or images. As well as curriculum-related content, student support material may also be available as an OER. A key point is that many OERs, subject to appropriate licensing, may be adapted for re-use. The OER IPR Support website has useful wizards that will help you to select appropriate Creative Commons Licences.
19. Are there implications to Intellectual Property Rights and Licensing when creating digital content?
The Strategic Content Alliance has developed an IPR and Licensing module to introduce the concepts of copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The module will help with dealing with rights and licensing issues associated with creation of digital content.