Students' Guide to Copyright
During the course of your studies, you may sometimes want to
copy material, e.g. journal articles, web pages, maps etc. You need
to be aware that this material will almost certainly be protected
by copyright, which will limit the amount you can copy. The
information below outlines what you can do, and where you might
need to seek permission.
For further information, see the rest of this guide. Please contact contact the library if you are in doubt
JISC's Little Guide to Copyright is also a useful quick
You are allowed to make a single copy of part of a
work, for private study or research for a non-commercial
Copyrighted materials may be copied without the prior consent of
the rights holder(s) under guidelines known as "fair dealing". It
applies where you copy part of a copyright work for your own, or
for another individual’s private study or research for a
non-commercial purpose. This copying may be done by using a
photocopier or a scanner or other means of copying, e.g. mobile
‘phone. You should keep such copying within the following
- A single extract or several extracts from
a book as long as the total copied is not more than 5% of the whole
- one chapter from a book, OR
- one article from a journal or newspaper issue,
- one paper from a set of conference
- one single case from a volume of law reports,
- Poems, short stories and other short literary works may be
copied so long as they are not more than ten pages
- You may photocopy up to 10% of a British Standard for private
study or research for a non-commercial purpose.
- You may select an area of a map not greater than A4 in size and
copy it up to four times for private study or research for a
CAUTION: Although you may make your single copy by
using a scanner or other means of electronic copying, you must not
re-publish or distribute the material in any way, e.g. by adding it
to a web page, or make multiple copies of the item.
Exceptions to this rule are:
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- Course Packs or other photocopied material distributed by your
lecturers should not be further photocopied as this could be a
serious breach of the University’s copyright licences.
- Sound recordings, e.g. music CDs; films and broadcasts are not
covered by fair dealing for private study or research and so may
not be copied in this way.
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- Unless otherwise stated, ALL material on the internet is
protected by copyright. This includes images.
- If you wish to copy material from the web, i.e. to print or
download it, you should check to see whether the page indicates
what you can and cannot do - for example, take a look at the
pages. You will often find the terms of
use link at the bottom of web pages.
- Look also for a copyright notice at the bottom of the page -
e.g. © Copyright 2012 York St. John University. This will
be useful if you use the material (e.g. in an assignment), when you
need to acknowledge the source.
- If no guidance is provided, then you may make ONE copy (on disk
or on paper) of the material you need for your own private study or
research for a non-commercial purpose. The limits as to how much
you may copy are set out above.
- You must not download music from the web, unless the web page
permits it; nor must you take part in file sharing with others.
Both of these are very serious breaches of copyright and can have
grave consequences for you and for the University.
- If you are creating your own web page then make sure you start
from scratch. Taking and adapting someone else’s web pages
without permission is a clear breach of copyright law. When
you add links to another site, it may be better to link
to the home page. If you wish to make “deep links”, i.e. direct
links to a page beyond the home page, there are a few things to
bear in mind.
- Some site owners request that you link to their home page,
rather than another page on the site.
- Websites get re-organised, which means that deep links can
break over time. So, if you do add deep links, it is advisable
to check them periodically to make sure they still
- Also, avoid using a site's or company's logos for the
links, unless they have given explicit permission to do
- You might want to protect your own work on the web - you can
attempt to do this by adding a simple copyright statement, e.g.
© Copyright [your name] 2012. If the material is really
important to you, it might be wiser not to put it on the web.
Most of these products are covered by licence agreements which
may set copying limits. Sometimes these are shown on screen, but
not always. In practice, it will usually be all right to download
or print the results of a search. Contact the library if you
need any further guidance.
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- You may make a SINGLE copy of a photograph for use in your work
(but see Dissertations, theses etc. below).
- If you wish to take your own photographs of an artist’s works,
you should check with the gallery to see whether this is permitted.
Sometimes, you may have to contact the artist directly for
There is an increasing number of resources, particularly images,
that are being made available by their creators under Creative Commons (CC) (and
similar) licences. This means that their creators are happy for
them to be re-used. You still need to give acknowledgement to the
copyright holder, and some additional restrictions may apply:
- NC (non commercial) - the resource may not be used in something
created for commercial purposes.
- ND (no derivatives) - the resource must be used as-is. For
example, you mustn't crop an image that has this term in its
- SA (share alike) - if you make the resource available
to others, or use it in a derivative work, you must preserve the
creative commons licence, giving others permission to do
You can search for CC images in services like Flickr, and Google's advanced
image search also allows you to search for items that are
labelled for re-use (though here, you should take caution and
always check the terms on the site supplying the image).
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If you are studying the making of film or film sound-tracks,
then you can copy material available on published sound and video
recordings to make your own film or film sound-track, provided that
this is in the course of your studies. Note, this copying may only
be done by a tutor or a student involved in such a course.
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The law allows you to include photocopied material in your
assessed work, even if you need to provide more than one copy of
your work for your tutors. You must, however, always include
If you are contemplating making your work available to the
public, e.g. by publication, display, exhibition etc., you must be
aware that the legal permission to copy for assessed work does not
extend to this. You must therefore obtain written permission from
the copyright owner before you make the work available to the
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Staffordshire University, adapted for use at York St. John