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Staff Copyright Guide

Using copyrighted material

Copyright law contains a number of specific defences that give grounds for particular usage without permission from the copyright holder.

It is important to remember that these are defences against accusations of copyright infringements, not inherent rights. If you are in any doubt as to the legality of your use of copyrighted material, it is always best to either seek advice from the Copyright Adviser or seek permission for use from the copyright holder.

There are more than are listed here, but some of the most relevant exceptions for staff are:

Non-commercial research and private study

You are permitted to make copies, either by scanning, photocopying or hand-copying, of any material owned by the Library - i.e. books, journals etc - for your own personal research or study. You can only make one copy for yourself under copyright law.

If you need to make multiple copies for teaching purposes, this can be done for you under the auspices of the CLA licence by our Copyright Unit - but these copies must be solely for teaching purposes.

You are also limited in how much of the source material is permitted to be copied under this exception:

  • 5% or one chapter of a book, whichever is the greater.
  • 5% or one whole article from a journal, whichever is the greater.
  • 5% or one whole paper from a set of conference proceedings or published report of judicial proceedings, whichever is the greater.
  • 5% of an anthology of short stories or poems; or one short story or one poem of no more than 10 pages, whichever is the greater.
  • Short extracts of 400 words or less may be quoted or copied, but longer extracts will require the permission of the copyright holder.

Criticism and review

This is particularly difficult to define, as copyright law as it stands contains no clear definition or explanation of the concepts of 'criticism or 'review'.

Generally criticism is considered to be the act of analysing or judging the literary or artistic quality of something. So, for example, if you were using an image under this defence, you would have to demonstrate an active criticism of the image itself, rather than using it to illustrate a point or for decorative purposes.

Reviewing some form of copyrighted work would mean writing a critical article or report on the material, such as book reviews or critiques of paintings/photographs/films etc. For example, film review programmes can use clips from a film they are reviewing without permission from the copyright holders.

However, this copyright defence is quite tenuous and difficult to define, so it is always best to seek permission where possible.

Instruction or examination

You are free to use almost any material, except printed musical scores, without permission, in your examination papers, as long as the material is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.

You can also use copyrighted material in your teaching, as long as your use is subject to fair dealing - i.e. you are not using any more than is necessary to illustrate your point; the use must be directly related to what you are teaching, rather than for decorative purposes or effect; you must not use the work in any kind of derogatory or negative way (unless you are actively critiquing it); your use must not impact on commercial sales of the original or render the need for students' to purchase their own copies unnecessary; your use must always acknowledge the source.

Performing, playing or showing work in course of activities of educational establishment.

A guide called a Code of Fair Practice for the Use of Audiovisual Works in Film Education has recently been created to help academics understand the UK copyright implications when legally using audiovisual materials for educational purposes. Designed by Bartolomeo Meletti from Learning on Screen, Chris Morrison from Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford and Jane Secker from City, University of London with input and feedback from distinguished film academics across the UK. This is a really useful, easy to understand guide for academics to understand how certain copyright exceptions in the UK can allow the use of audiovisual works for educational purposes, which are not currently available under one of our licenced platforms, such as BoB. 

You are permitted to show any film, television or sound recording in class as long as the following criteria are met:

  • The audience must consist solely of staff and/or students. Members of the public cannot be present, nor do family members count.
  • The showing must be for educational purposes. You cannot put a film on in a class setting simply to entertain the students.
  • The recording must be a legal version - i.e. a legally purchased DVD/CD - this does not need to have been purchased by the Library; it can be your own personal copy. The university has an ERA Licence and subscribes to BoB ((Box of Broadcasts). This enables members of the institution to login to record and watch broadcasts from a number of channels such as BBC, ITV, Ch4, E4, Ch5. It's also possible to make clips and show the transcript - enabling accessibility. BoB is only available to view in the United Kingdom.
  • If performing a copyrighted work, i.e. a play, again the audience must consist solely of staff and/or students. Recordings of the performance can be made, but they cannot be made available to anyone outside of the University or placed on the World Wide Web.

The University also subscribes to a number of licences that extend the range and amount of material that can be copied beyond what is currently permitted under copyright law. You can find more information on the licences held on the Licences page.