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Guide: Copyright: Home


Welcome to the 'Copyright' Guide.


This guide is aimed at helping staff and students to stay within the law when using copyright material.  Copyright is a legal protection for an author or creator, which restricts the copying of an original work they have created.

Copyright Law:

Copyright law protects the economic rights of authors/ publishers by prohibiting copying of their works except in certain circumstances.  Copyright protection begins when a work is created, & lasts in most cases for 70 years from the end of the year of death of the author. 

The 'Copyright, Designs & Patents Act, 1988' (link below) prohibits copying even for teaching purposes unless permission is obtained from the copyright owner, or is carried out under licence, or under the fair dealing provisions of the Act.

When is copying legal?

  • under the provisions of 'fair dealing'
  • under the terms of a licence, either individual or collective
  • when the copyright owner has given personal permission

Examples of licences include the:

Exceptions in Copyright Legislation

Caricature, Parody or Pastiche (s.30A):

This exception permits limited reasonable use for caricature, parody or pastiche.  The copyright owner could, however, still object to derogatory treatment under their moral rights.

Copying for Libraries & Archives (s.40B):

The new s.40B of the 'Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988' allows librarians, archivists, museums and educational establishments to communicate, or make available to the public, a lawfully acquired work by means of a dedicated terminal without infringing copyright as long as it is for research or private study. 

Use of this exception must also comply with any applicable licence attached to the work.  The work must be made accessible on a dedicated terminal on the premises of the institution and not off-site.

Copying for Persons With Disabilities (s.31A-F):

Sections 31A to 31F of the 'Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988' have been amended.  Previously the exceptions were limited to visually impaired persons, but now they have expanded to include all disabled persons where their impairment affects their ability to access work on an equal basis to someone without the impairment.  For example students with dyslexia are now covered by the new exception. 

All copyright work is now covered, including recordings of performances and broadcasts, film and video clips.  Furthermore, universities can lawfully insert subtitles on a broadcast or a video clip for disabled learners, where there is no commercial alternative available at a reasonable cost, without the risk of copyright infringement.  Any copying under this exception should be accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, such as the author’s name and title of the work, where practical.

Copyright for Preservation (s.42):

Section 42 allows libraries and archives to preserve or replace published material for different types of works, provided it is not practical to purchase the item.  It is now permitted to make reasonable number of copies of items in the permanent collection, and contracts cannot override the provision.  The item must be kept wholly or mainly for reference purposes on the premises, not accessible to the public, or available on loan to other libraries, archives or museums.

Criticism, Review, Quotation & News Reporting (s.30):

Copyright is not infringed by the use of a quotation, whether for criticism or review or otherwise, provided that use complies with 'fair dealing'.  Therefore, the quote must be relevant and necessary, the amount used no more than required for the purpose, and the original work acknowledged.  This applies to all formats of material.

Illustration for Instruction (s.32):

This applies to copying done for the purposes of giving or receiving instruction, including setting and answering exam questions.  It applies to all formats of material.  The amount must comply with 'fair dealing' and be accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement.  Use must be for non-commercial purposes.

Library Privilege (s.41 & s.42A):

Under Section 41 copying for other libraries is extended and now includes all types of works.  Under this provision the works are not subject to contracts and a single copy of a whole or part of a published work can be copied (usually for inter library loans).

Section 42A permits acceptance of electronic declarations.  The provision will permit a single copy of one article from a periodical, or a reasonable proportion of any published work by a not for profit library.  The use has to be for non-commercial research or private study and contracts cannot override the provision.

Research & Private Study (s.29):

You may copy from any format of material for research and private study for non-commercial purposes provided that it is fair dealing.  Contractual terms cannot override this exception. The following might be considered 'fair dealing'

  • Journals - one article or 10%, whichever is the greater
  • Books - one chapter or 10%, whichever is the greater
  • Anthologies - a short story or poem, not exceeding 10 pages
Loading ... have put together a website which aims to assist users in determining if copyright material that they want to re-use, is covered by UK law.

You can access the website here:


The information contained within these pages provides an interpretation of current copyright issues.  It is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

There is some material on these pages that may link to third party sites that are licensed differently. SRUC does not endorse these third party sites, and they cannot accept responsibility for their content or ongoing availability. Any logos or trademarks in the resource are exclusive property of their owners and their appearance is not an endorsement by SRUC.

Note:  While library staff are happy to help with copyright issues and to assist in obtaining copyright-cleared items through our digitisation and Inter-library loan services, it is the responsibility of individual academic staff and students to ensure that their use of any materials for learning and teaching complies with UK copyright law and the terms of our licences.


Thanks go to the 'De Montfort University, Leicester' and 'Anglia Ruskin University', who kindly gave permission to use their Copyright guides as templates for the creation of this guide.

Copyright (Image)

© Elionas (2016), CC0

Copyright Query?

Understanding copyright law and how it applies to teaching and learning can be tricky. How you deal with different 'works', can vary widely depending on where the work originates from, and what you intend to use it for.

The Library’s Copyright Advice Service provides a single point of contact for all copyright-related issues and enquiries here at SRUC, and is designed to simplify the process of ensuring that you adhere to copyright legislation.

Do you have a copyright query?


Internet Resources - Copyright


References for images included within this guide:

Elionas (2016) Copyright, characters, protected, computer, keyboard. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 9 October 2019).