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Supporting Staff: Copyright

Copyright is relevant whenever you are copying or sharing creative work. This guide helps you to understand copyright and its relevance to your work and study at the University of Southampton.

What does copyright protect?

Illustrative image. Copyright protects and allows sharing.    Image from 01:08 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.Copyright is a type of ‘intellectual property right’ that gives the authors of original, creative works the right to decide who is allowed to copy and share their work and how.There are many types of work which qualify for copyright protection in the UK, for example books, journals, personal correspondence, software, music, art works, diagrams, databases audio recordings, films and broadcasts.

Copyright is a type of ‘intellectual property right’ that gives the authors of original, creative works the right to decide who is allowed to copy and share their work and how.There are many types of work which qualify for copyright protection in the UK, for example books, journals, personal correspondence, software, music, art works, diagrams, databases audio recordings, films and broadcasts.


Who owns copyright?

illustrattive image of copyright and a lock. Photo: iStock-656591624The first owner of copyright is usually the author or the producer of the work, although if you create something as part of your job your employer will typically own the copyright.The exception to this at Southampton is if you create what are called “scholarly works” such as essays, journal articles or books. If you create a scholarly work it is likely that you will own the copyright in it.Copyright ownership can also be assigned to other people or organisations.


Activities covered by copyright

Copyright law gives the copyright owner certain "exclusive rights". This means that:

  • nobody else can use your copyright work in certain ways without your permission
  • You need permission to use someone else’s work.

The following activities are all defined in copyright law as “restricted acts” which only the copyright owner or their representative has the right to authorise:

  • Copying
  • Issuing copies to the public (i.e. publishing and distributing physical copies of works)
  • Renting or lending
  • Publicly performing (i.e. showing, playing or performing copyright works in a public space)
  • Communicating to the public by means of electronic transmission (i.e. broadcast and online communication)
  • Adapting (e.g. making a film adaptation of a book)

If you're doing any of the above with a copyright work, you need to make sure that you either have a licence or that a copyright exception applies. Click here for copyright exceptions.


Copyright licences

If you own the copyright in a work you'll probably want others to use it according to certain conditions. The permissions you give to others will come in the form of a copyright licence. Similarly, if you want to make use of copyright material created by others you will find that much of it comes with licences attached.

Digital content

The terms of use you accept when you access digital resources such as websites, social media services, databases and electronic library resources all contain copyright licensing terms.

Collective licences

Other types of "collective licence" are available to staff and students, which cover entire classes of copyright work.For example, the University has signed the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education licence and this covers the majority of published books and journals. This licence allows us to copy up to 10% or a chapter/article from a qualifying book or journal, whichever is the greater.

Creative Commons

Illustrative image of creative common copyright. Image from 02:28 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.Creative Commons licences are also widely used in research and education. These licences are designed to promote sharing of copyright material with as few barriers to use and reuse as possible. They allow use of the copyright works without payment and may also allow others to create new works based on the original work.

The most commonly encountered licences at the University are summarised below:


Summary of different licences:

Type of licence

What's covered

CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency)

Copies of up to one chapter/article of 10% (whichever is the greater) from books, journals and magazines

ERA (Educational Recording Agency)

Recordings from UK TV and radio broadcasts (provided by BoB - On Demand)

NLA Media Access (Newspaper Licensing Agency)

Links and copies of articles from newspapers

PRS for Music/PPL

Public performance of musical works


Public screenings of feature films not linked to educational activity

Creative Commons

Allows open sharing of copyright work as decided by the copyright owner who may restrict commercial use or adaptations, or require any adaptations to be licensed on the same terms

Digital library resources

Allows you to access e-books, journals and other databases for your non-commercial study or research















Copyright exceptions


Although licences can provide you with explicit permission to use copyright works in certain ways, there are times when licences are unavailable or inappropriate. For example, if you're quoting extracts from a large number of different works in a piece of academic work, it may be impossible to get permission from every copyright holder. The law therefore includes "exceptions" to copyright which allow use of copyright works without the copyright holder's permission in certain contexts. These are called "permitted acts" in the legislation, which is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) and are often based on the principle that the use is covered by fair dealing”.


Summary of relevant UK copyright exceptions

Name of exception


Activities covered

CDPA section

Research or private study

Allows students and researchers to make copies of copyright works for non-commercial research or private study.

Making personal copies of extracts from books and journals

Copying images to use as stimulus in research study

Section 29


Allows anyone to reproduce copyright works for the purpose of quotation where it is fair

Includes presenting extracts from books, journals and musical works to students

Potential use of whole works where the use is fair. For example, review of a poem.

Section 30

Accessible copying

Allows individuals or institutions to provide equal access to copyright works for users with any type disability

Digitising print material

Format shifting text to audio

Creating subtitles for videos

Sections 31A-F

Illustration for instruction

Allows teachers or students to use copyright work in teaching or study where the use is fair

Including text, images, music or video in teaching slides and lecture recordings

Adding content to examination papers

Section 32

Educational performance

Allows any copyright work that can be performed, played or shown in an educational setting (where there is no charge to view) to be performed played or shown

Screening a film in a lecture, playing musical sound recordings in class, performance of a play in class (i.e. not for an external audience)

Section 34

Recording of broadcasts

Allows educational establishment to record TV and radio broadcasts and make them available to students

Underpins the University’s use of BoB Online TV streaming service

Section 35

Making multiple copies

Allows educational institutions to copy up to 5% of a copyright work and supply multiple copies to students

Copying of book extracts not covered by the CLA licence

Copying up to 5% of a film or sound recording and making it available to students on Moodle


Section 36















Fair dealing

Illustrative image showing light tower at sea. Image by under CC-BY 3.0  license.Many copyright exceptions involve a test of "fair dealing". This means you need to think about whether your use of someone else’s work is fair, for example:

  • Have you used it in a way that stops them from selling the work, or making use of it in the way they want to?
  • Have you used more of the work than you need to for your purpose?

Deciding on whether something is fair will always need to be done on a case-by-case basis - we can help. Please email us at


Copyright risk

Illustrative image of copyright logo. Image iStock-1138068503Because many elements of copyright law are subjective, particularly whether an activity is "fair", you may need to take a risk management approach.

This means you might use a copyright work even if you can't be 100% sure that the activity is non-infringing. To assess copyright risk you'll need to consider the following:

  • What is the likelihood that what you are doing infringes copyright?
  • How likely is it that the copyright holder will discover your activity (for example, is it for an assignment or to be published)?
  • How likely is it that the copyright holder will object to your activity?
  • What is the impact (both financial and reputational) if the copyright holder was to take action against you or the University?

Read more.


This video may be useful for your students:

Video transcript [word doc].



If you have any questions about copyright, email

Copyright for lecturers

Illustrative image of light bulbs. Image from 00:50 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.Teaching and learning would be impossible at the University of Southampton without the use of copyright protected material. This page helps you understand how to use copyright material legally in your teaching.

When you share copyright material such as readings, videos and sound recordings with students this material needs to be covered by:

  • A licence; or
  • A copyright exception in law.

In many cases the University pays for licences, which allow educational use. But there will also be times when you need to rely on exceptions.

Where there is no licence or exception it's possible that you or the University may be liable for copyright infringement. The risk of infringement when providing teaching resources is usually low, but can lead to financial or reputational damage. The information on this page will help you manage this risk and demonstrate good practice in use of copyright material.


Licences that allow use of content for teaching

We have a number of licences that enable use of teaching materials.

Digital library resources

Our digital library resources all come with licences that allow you and your students to access content via your University account.

Collective licences

We have collective copyright licences, which allow copying and sharing of certain types of copyright work:

  • Published books and journals: our Copyright Licensing Agency licence allows us to provide up to 10%, or one chapter/article (whichever is the greater) to students. You can request licenced copies via the Talis Aspire reading list system.


  • UK film and radio broadcasts: our Education Recording Agency (ERA) allows us to access recordings from United Kingdom film and radio broadcasts, which we provide to you using BoB - On Demand TV and Radio. Please note that students outside the United Kingdom will not be able to access BoB, due to license restrictions.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licences are becoming increasingly important in teaching as a way of creating and sharing educational resources.

You can use Creative Commons licenced works in your teaching without having to pay or ask for permission. There are different types of Creative Commons licence, so make sure you're aware of the restrictions the copyright owner has applied, such as the ‘NoDerivatives’ option, which prevents you from making an adaptation of the work.

Find free Creative Commons licensed educational resources.

What to do if there's no licence

There may be cases where you want to use a copyright work in your teaching that isn't covered by a licence. You'll then need to:

  • Get permission from the copyright holder directly; or
  • Determine if your activity is covered by an exception to copyright.


Copyright exceptions for teaching

Illustrative image. Copyright Symbol & Minimal Background iStock-1161454487Copyright exceptions allow you to include copyright material in your teaching without the permission of the copyright holder. To rely on copyright exceptions you must abide by the concept of fair dealing. This means you must:

  • Provide a credit for the work and its creator;
  • Only use as much of it as is necessary for your teaching; and
  • Make sure your use doesn’t undermine the copyright owner's ability to exploit the work.

There are a number of copyright exceptions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which relate to teaching. The most relevant to you as a tutor are:

The sections below show how you can rely on licences and exceptions to address copyright in relation to the most common types of teaching activity.


Uploading content to Blackboard

Under copyright law you can share the same types of content with your students online that you're allowed to present in a lecture theatre, as long as the use is:

  • Relevant to your teaching; and
  • Fair to the copyright owner

Teaching slides

As you create PowerPoint slides or equivalent teaching presentations, make sure you properly credit any images, text or musical quotations. You need to do this regardless of whether you're relying on a licence or on a copyright exception.


When adding electronic content to a reading list, link to the original digital resource. Don't download and re-upload it to Blackboard, as many e-resource licences don't allow this.

Scans from books and journals

If you want to share extracts from published print books and journals they can be requested via the Talis reading list system and linked to Blackboard modules for your students to access. The CLA licence fees paid by the University can then be distributed to the author and publisher.

Creative Commons licensed content

If the content you want to share is covered by a Creative Commons licence you can upload it to Blackboard.

But if you're creating a new copyright work based on existing Creative Commons works, you need to consider whether this is a derivative work and therefore if the licence restricts this.

Commercial use

Some licences restrict commercial use, which teaching is not. This means you can share material marked for "non-commercial" use in most teaching contexts.

Accessible copying

If you or your students have a disability, you or they may make adaptations to copyright works to make them accessible. We provide a range of services to support access to accessible formats, which can be found at


Lecture capture (Panopto)

The same principles that apply to Blackboard also apply to Panopto.

You can:

  • Include copyright material in your recorded lectures where licences allow;
  • Rely on exceptions, as long as your use is fair and relevant to your students’ studies.

You should always provide a credit for any content you include, unless this is impossible or impractical.

When you set up Panopto to record your lectures, it should be in accordance with the University’s Intellectual Property Regulations (IPR). You will be asked to enter into an agreement with the University, which grants it rights over various copyright works and related rights existing in the recordings, which are not covered by the University’s IPR.

You can find further information on using Panopto.


Performing works in class

Showing recorded media

You can show films or play recorded audio to students without needing a licence from the copyright owner in:

  • Lecture or seminar rooms
  • Online teaching events as long as you only provide access only to your students. Students must not record these screenings.

This is because there's a specific copyright exception, which covers the performing, playing or showing work the course of the activities of an educational establishment.

Performing musical, literary or dramatic works

You may perform or get others to perform musical, literary or dramatic works in front of an audience without a licence as long as these are closed sessions for your students. If the audience includes other people, such as family, friends or members of the public, you may need a licence.

  • Public performance of literary work: under UK copyright law you are allowed to recite "reasonable" quotes from books and journals in public without needing a licence. You may record the reading or recitation and share it online, as long as the quoted material is only a small part of the overall recording.
  • Public performance of dramatic works: you or your students will need to get permission from the copyright owner if you want to publicly perform a whole play, musical or opera. You can contact theatrical agents such as Concord Theatricals to arrange permission if you need it.


Open educational resources

Illustrative image  showing a peson and icons of education. Image istockphoto-509366330Many teachers are happy to share their learning resources with others under open licences.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are typically released with Creative Commons licences that allow the copyright owner to authorise others to share their works free of charge. If the copyright owner wants to, they can give others the right to adapt and even commercialise their work, but sometimes they choose to restrict these permissions. The OER Commons is a digital library of open educational resources.

The creation and dissemination of copyright content at the University of Southampton is subject to our Intellectual Property Regulations.





If you have any questions about copyright, email


This information in no way substitutes for formal legal advice. If you are in any doubt or require further information we recommend you consult with Legal Services.

This work, "Copyright", is a derivative of "Copyright what you need to know" by the University of Kent, used under CC BY 2.0, and it is using copyrighted images/videos. "Copyright" is licensed under CC BY 2.0 by the University of Southampton. Please see below separate license for images/videos used. All images/videos used and edited with permission.


Illustrative image. Copyright protects and allows sharing.    Image from 01:08 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.Image from 01:08 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.

illustrattive image of copyright and a lock. Photo: iStock-656591624Image © iStock-656591624


Illustrative image of creative common copyright. Image from 02:28 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.Image from 02:28 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.

Illustrative image showing light tower at sea. Image by under CC-BY 3.0  license.Image by under CC-BY 3.0  license.


Video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0  license.

Illustrative image  showing a peson and icons of education. Image istockphoto-509366330

Image © istockphoto-509366330


Illustrative image of copyright logo. Image iStock-1138068503

Image © iStock-113806850


Illustrative image of copyright symbol. Image iStock-1161454487

Image © iStock-1161454487



Illustrative image of light bulbs. Image by

Image from 00:50 video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ by released under CC-BY 3.0 license.