Copyright is relevant to all staff and students whether you are creating an original work or using someone else’s works. These webpages will help you understand copyright and why it’s important for you to consider it in your work and studies.
What is copyright?
Copyright is part of a set of intellectual property rights that gives the creator of a work the exclusive rights to copy and distribute that work, and to make adaptations of it. Current UK copyright law is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
What is protected by copyright and for how long?
Copyright is an automatic right and applies to original works that are published or unpublished. Original means that the creator has contributed their own ideas or skills to the creation of the material. Copyright does not protect ideas or thoughts; they must be recorded or ‘fixed’ in some way.
Different types of material have different periods of copyright protection; expand the table below for details.
Who owns copyright and how can you tell?
Copyright ownership depends on how the work was created and the format of the work. Ownership usually belongs to the creator of the work but there are exceptions where copyright ownership can be transferred, sold or waived.
Copyright can sometimes be identified by the use of a copyright symbol ©, but don’t assume that if the symbol is not used that a work is not covered by copyright.
If copyright owners cannot be identified or found, works are referred to as 'orphan works'.
There are various exceptions included in UK copyright law that allow for the reuse of copyright material within education and research. Many of these are 'fair dealing' exceptions, and are based on the idea that reuse should be limited and fair.
Different use cases come with different sets of exceptions; expand the table below for details.
Some copyright exceptions are subject to fair dealing. Fair dealing is a legal term that has no statutory definition. This means that each case will require a judgement to be made. A court would be asked to consider how an honest and fair-minded person would regard the use of the copyrighted material.
The University holds a number of licences to legitimise copying for educational use:
Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence
The University subscribes to the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence for Higher Education. The licence allows photocopying and scanning from books and journals, subject to the licence limits. In order to comply with the terms of the licence, Library & Learning Services offers a centralised scanning service; we will check copyright clearance, scan the items, store the PDF, and make the link available on your reading list. For further information about the service, visit our Digital Scanning Service webpage.
Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) Licence
The University holds an Education Establishment Basic Licence from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). This licence permits 'cuttings' to be made from print and online versions of national and regional newspapers.
Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence
The University holds an Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence. This allows the recording and storage of television and radio programmes. Holding the ERA Licence allows the University to subscribe to Box of Broadcasts (BoB). This enables all staff and students to record broadcast programmes from over sixty television and radio channels.
Creative Commons licences
Creative Commons is a way of licensing materials that encourages reuse and sharing, whilst also allowing creators to retain some rights. Creative Commons offer six licences, and how people can use different works depends on which licence has been applied. Anyone can apply a Creative Commons licence to their work. Increasingly, research and educational resources are being released open-access with Creative Commons licences.
To review the six licences, expand the table below.