We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Copyright Licensing

Copyright Licensing

Copyright is a property right intended to protect the rights of those who create works of various kinds.  The basis of UK copyright law is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The Act states that copyright is a property right and can lie in the following types of work:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
  • Sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes
  • The typographical arrangement of published editions

The owner of the copyright in a work has the exclusive right to:

  • Copy the work
  • Issue copies of the work to the public
  • Perform, show or play the work in public
  • Broadcast the work or include it in a cable programme service
  • Make an adaptation of the work or do any of the above in relation to an adaptation

The author, director or commissioner of the work, whether or not that person is the copyright owner, has the following rights:

  • To be identified as author or director
  • To object to derogatory treatment of the work
  • The right to privacy of certain photographs and films

The University holds licenses which enable it to use some copyrighted works for educational purposes without breaching the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The University is licensed under:

  • The Copyright Licensing Agency Photocopying and Scanning Licence
  • The Newspaper Licensing Agency Educational Licence
  • The Ordnance Survey Educational Copyright Licence
  • The Educational Recording Agency Educational Recording Licence
  • The Open University Licensed Off-air Recording Scheme

The University also subscribes to the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC) Off-air Recording Backup Service.

If you have any questions about our copyright licenses please contact Colin Theakston,  the University's Copyright Officer.


 Durham University Library can provide guidance to members of the university on matters of Copyright and the copying of material for research, teaching and learning at the university.

In general, you CAN copy material IF

  • the material is 'out of copyright' (see Copyright Duration Page)
  • you are the copyright owner
  • you have a visual impairment
  • you have the permission of the copyright owner
  • you are copying within the accepted limits of 'fair dealing' for:
    • non-commercial research
    • non-commercial private study
    • criticism or review
    • reporting of current events
  • the University holds a licence for the type of copying you want to carry out. 

If in doubt - DON'T copy - seek advice. 

Copyright can be a complex subject so these pages are intended to give simple advice on the topic. Please note that they are for guidance only and relate in the main to copying carried out by members of the University (staff and students). It is not intended that these (or linked pages) should provide definitive legal opinion on copyright.

User Guides

Students may find the attached guides useful:


University Copyright Officer
Colin Theakston
Telephone : 0191 3342970

Library Digitisation Unit
Email :
Telephone : 0191 3342967

Copyright for teaching materials:can I use it?

This short online resource will help you to determine whether you can use specific types of material in your teaching, and how you can use them without breaching copyright.

Copyright for teaching materials