Moodle and copyrighted material
It is important to consider copyright status, when adding
course materials to modules in Moodle. Remember that distributing
material in electronic format, including uploading it to Moodle,
constitutes copying and is likely to infringe the rights of the
copyright owner unless you have permission from them.
Remember, if in any doubt ask permission from the copyright
owner before you copy, modify or distribute their
work. Contact the
library if you need further advice.
Do I need to get
permission, before using text, tables or diagrams in
In general, you will need to seek permission before including
text, tables or diagrams, etc. in Moodle, unless:
- the items are out of copyright
- you are the copyright holder
- YSJ is the copyright holder
- the items are explicitly licenced for such use
Bear in mind that that you might not be the copyright
holder of an article, even if you are the author, if you may
have assigned rights to the publisher - it is important that
you check your publishing contract or terms of agreement. If
you upload any of your own unpublished material (such as lecture
slides), please similarly take care to ensure that all images and
multimedia are copyright free or used as permitted by the
Top of page
Can I make items on my reading list
Reading lists can be created in WorldCat
local, containing links to full text journal articles or
eBooks, as well as catalogue records for paper copies. Please
contact your librarian, if your module
does not currently have an online reading list.
Please link to journal articles and eBooks via the
provider, instead of uploading the content into Moodle.
The fact that an item may be available to students from a
provider's site, either openly or via a university subscription,
does not mean that we have permission to download and
distribute copies of that item in PDF (or other) format. For
reliable linking, you can get a "permalink" (stable URL) from most
providers. If you are unsure about anything, advice on linking to
articles and other material is available from your Academic
Top of page
Do I need copyright clearance to use
slides and video in Moodle?
Slides from your own lectures, for which you hold the copyright,
can be easily incorporated into a Moodle course. However you will
need copyright permission to use materials which belong to other
individuals. Take care to ensure that all images and multimedia in
presentations are copyright free or permitted by the rights holder.
Also, please be aware that permission to use an item may not
give you permission to adapt it, so (for example) you
may have permission to use an image in its original form, but
not if you crop it (check the licence terms).
It is possible to include digitised TV or radio excerpts which
have been recorded under the Educational Recording Agency (ERA)
Licence. The Licence stipulates that an excerpt must not be edited
and should be clearly identified with the programme title, date of
recording and channel, together with a statement saying it was
recorded under the terms of the ERA Licence. However, this material
cannot currently be distributed beyond the YSJ campus.
Top of page
Does copyright exist on the
internet? Surely I can use materials that I find on the internet
for educational purposes?
Copyright exists for web-based materials in the same way as
other published materials. You cannot cut and paste information
into Moodle from another website without permission. If you wish to
direct students to other web-based materials, you can link to other
websites, but the website owner may request that you place a link
to the home page of the site, rather than a 'deep' link further
into the site.
Before downloading or copying any material from the web you
should pay particular attention to any copyright statement, terms
and conditions or licence attached to the site. Increasingly
organisations are including this information prominently on their
site and you should read and take note of any specific
website, a link to which can be found at the very bottom of the
Many educational websites will freely grant permission for
teachers to use their material. You will first need to identify the
copyright holder; the webmaster of the site is often the most
useful first point of contact. You can address your permission
request here in the first instance.
Top of page
What about linking to other
Linking is a fundamental part of the web and generally does not
cause copyright issues. However, there are several good practice
guidelines that you should adhere to.
Often websites get re-organised, which means that
"deep links", which link directly to a resource and bypass the
site home page, can break over time. Also, site
owners sometimes request that you link to their home page. If
you do add deep links, for example to a PDF
file, please make sure that you check them periodically
to make sure they still work.
Top of page
What about using images
and resources from other websites? Am I able to use
anything downloaded from the internet in my teaching?
If you wish to use an image from another website, you
must make sure that you have permission from the copyright
holder to do so. Increasingly, commercial website owners are
including a watermark in an image to discourage illegal
There are hassle-free ways to access copyright cleared or free
to copy images. There are also several sources of free images or
open educational resources available on the web. For example, the
Data Service provides images that are either free of
copyright, or copyright cleared for use in teaching and
private research. You can search for images under
Commons licence (meaning that the user is happy for you to
re-use the image under certain terms), in services such
You can also carry out an Advanced
Search on Google Images to locate images labelled for
site supplying the image).
Freely-available resources go beyond just images. There is a
growing movement to develop open educational resources. There
are sources of high-quality teaching resources and
images that are licenced for free re-use, or already
copyright-cleared. A good place to start is Jorum, run by Mimas at the
University of Manchester.
Top of page
How does copyright apply to
the electronic environment?
The Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 clearly defines the
copying of a work and specifically includes electronic storage.
Material on the Web is subject to the same restrictions as other
material. Copying in relation to a literary, dramatic, musical or
artistic work means reproducing the work in any material form. This
includes storing the work in any medium by electronic means. In
addition to this the Act was amended in 2003 to give the author
exclusive right to "communicate a work to the public" which
includes making material available on a website or
The majority of resources stored in electronic format (such as
material on the Internet) will be subject to copyright
restrictions, unless there is an explicit statement that says
otherwise. Therefore they are the property of the copyright holder
(who might be the creator, the publisher, employer, and so on).
Even if there is no copyright statement on the material you are
viewing, you must not assume that it is copyright-free.
Key points to remember when using electronic material are:
Top of page
with any electronic resources you use.
- Never assume that as you can easily access information, that it
is freely available to reproduce.
- Remember that distributing material in electronic format (such
as by emailing it to colleagues or students, uploading it
to Moodle or placing it on an Intranet) constitutes copying
and is likely to infringe the rights of the copyright owner unless
you have permission from the owner.
- If in any doubt always ask permission from the copyright owner
before you copy or distribute their work.
If I use material as part of an
assessment do I still need copyright permission?
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 makes special
provisions for examination purposes. For the purposes of setting,
communicating or answering the questions in closed exams anything
may be done with copyright materials (except for music) without
permission. However, if you are using Moodle's assessment
tools, such as Quizzes or Surveys and wish to include copyrighted
material, contact your librarian
for more information.
Top of page
How long does it take to get
copyright clearance and how do I get it?
The University holds a number of licences which allow copying
and scanning for classroom use, however there are often instances
when it will be necessary to obtain permission to use materials.
The time taken to get copyright permission can vary depending on
individual copyright holders, and obtaining permission for
electronic materials can take longer as some publishers still feel
cautious about this medium.
If you do not receive a reply to your permission request, you
should not assume you can use the material. Never assume that when
a rights holder does not respond it means they are happy for their
work to be used.
Top of page
If you need any help in obtaining copyright permission to re-use
material then contact your
librarian for advice.
Secker, adapted for use at York St. John University