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Copyright for Staff: Copyright and Teaching

This guide covers basic copyright information for staff.

When preparing teaching materials you need to be aware of copyright issues. As soon as a work is created it is automatically protected by copyright without any need for registration: this applies to electronic as well as print material.

The Internet makes copying very easy but, unless there is an explicit statement to say otherwise, material there is covered by copyright.

Emailing material published on the Internet to colleagues or students or uploading it to ELE constitutes copying and unless you have permission you are infringing the rights of the copyright owner.


You can make multiple photocopies of items to hand out to your class because the University has a CLA Licence.  However the following rules apply:

Source Edition

Copies can only be made from an original book, journal or conference proceeding owned by the University or from a copyright fee paid copy of a chapter / article supplied by the British Library.  Copies cannot be made from personal copies owned by members of staff.

How Much Can You Copy?

You can photocopy:

  • one chapter or 10% of a book whichever is greater

  • one article or 10% of a journal issue whichever is greater

  • one short story or poem (not exceeding 10 pages in length) from an anthology

  • one paper from a set of conference proceedings

  • one report of a single case from a report of judicial proceedings

What Can you Still Not Copy?

Some categories of published works (e.g. printed music, maps, charts, newspapers), as well as some specific works by individual authors, artists and publishers, are not covered by CLA's licences.

The CLA licence also applies only to certain countries. 

To check whether the item you wish to copy is excluded from the licence, you must consult the CLA Check Permissions Page to find out what can be copied.

Quantity Limits

The number of copies that can be made are limited to the supply of one copy for each student enrolled on the course (plus the course tutors). 

If you want to know more then contact the University Copyright Officer -

When creating your slides for use in a lecture there are copyright implications especially if the lecture is being recorded to be made available via the Internet.

However there are exceptions under copyright law relating to education which permits the use of any type of work for the purpose of teaching, or as the law expresses it “for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction”.

This means that copyright in the work is not infringed by an individual teacher as long as they are copying the work to give or receive instruction (or when preparing to give or receive instruction), and the copying is used to illustrate a point about the subject being taught.

The law says such copying does not infringe copyright as long as:

a.   it is for a non-commercial purpose
b.    the amount of the work used is “fair”. This usually means up to 5% of the work, and that no more than this is copied and used for “illustration and instruction” for the same module in the same academic year.
c.    it is done by a person giving or receiving instruction (or preparing for giving or receiving instruction), and
d.    it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement. (so always reference your sources)

The law also states that “giving or receiving instruction” can also include copying for setting examination questions, communicating questions to students, and answering questions.

As part of the teaching session, a presentation may include;

• an image
• a short quotation, e.g. from a book, journal paper
• a diagram, chart or figure, from a published work
• an extract from a musical score
• an extract of a recording of a musical performance
• an extract of a recording of a radio or television broadcast
• a clip from a movie

The regulations, in fact, do not restrict the type of copyright work that can be used, but any use of a work must be reasonable, minimal, fair, non-commercial and provided with an acknowledgement.

The exception discussed in the Powerpoint section known as "illustration for instruction" also includes the use of 3rd party copyright material in lectures which are recorded.

Such use is allowed;

• provided the original work is sufficiently acknowledged.
• the recording is fair, i.e in order to be fair the material must be included in the lecture and lecture recorded to illustrate a teaching point.
• only so much of the copyright work is used as is necessary for illustration for instruction and the use must not adversely affect the rights holder’s ability to exploit their work.
• access to the recorded lecture is via a password protected VLE, and is only provided to those students and staff requiring access for the purpose of instruction.


Creating Exam Papers

The Copyright Act permits the use of any copyrighted material for the purposes of examination, except printed music.

You may include quotations, images or figures in your exam question; hand out copied articles or book chapters for reference; play a sound recording or film, demonstrate a computer program.

All use must be accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement and comply with fair dealing, i.e. the amount used must be no more than is necessary for the setting of the questions, must not negate the necessity of a commercial purchase, must not be used in a derogatory or negative manner etc.

Making Past Papers Available for Students (Exam Paper Database)

The Copyright Act allows use for the purposes of examination only; consulting past papers is considered study or revision, and therefore the blanket exception for examination is not applicable.

However, this kind of use of exam papers for revision purposes would likely qualify under the 'illustration for instruction' exception. The exception covers the use of material for teaching purposes subject to a number of 'fair dealing' conditions:

  • material used must be sufficiently referenced and acknowledged
  • you should use no more than is necessary
  • it must be illustrating an educational point, so not just for aesthetic reasons
  • the use must not rival commercial sales

Since the amount of material used in an exam paper will be minimal and will obviously be for educational purposes it will probably be fine. However, as all exam papers are automatically added to the Exam Paper Database you must ensure that all 3rd party material is properly referenced.

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