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Copyright Licensing

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Fair Dealing?

Fair dealing’ is a term used for copying when it is:

  • of an insubstantial amount of the whole work

AND is for the purpose of

  • non-commercial research, or
  • non-commercial private study, or
  • criticism or review, or
  • reporting current events.

If such criteria are met, the copying does not infringe copyright in the work.

However, how much copying is acceptable as fair dealing is not actually defined in the 1988 Act. Fair dealing is only a defence that could be used if a court case ensued.

In March 2008 the Publishers Association produced their Permissions Guidelines which gives their viewpoint on what constitutes Fair Dealing.

2. How much can I copy for Non-Commercial Research or Non-Commercial Private Study?

In most cases, copying within the following limits can be taken as fair dealing for the purpose of non-commercial research or non-commercial private study.

  • up to one complete chapter of a book;
  • up to one whole article from a single issue of a serial publication or in a set of conference proceedings;
  • the entire report of a single case of judicial proceedings;
  • in the case of an anthology of short stories or poems, one short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length;

OR no more than 10% of any published edition above, whichever is the greater.

Note that a student is the author of a thesis and is therefore the copyright holder for his/her original work. However, for the purposes of photocopying, theses are treated as books and up to 10% or one chapter may be copied without seeking permission.

Note also that some photocopying can be carried out in relation to commercial research under the terms of the University's current licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency.

3.    How much can I copy for Criticism or Review?

If you have copied a whole chapter of a book, or an article from a journal, you may then want to quote some of that text or include an illustration from it within a new piece of work that you are writing (eg an essay, dissertation or thesis), for the purpose of criticism or review.

Under 'fair dealing' it is has been previously accepted that you can copy and include in your work:

  • one extract of no more than 400 words;
  • several extracts none more than 300 words and totalling not more than 800 words;
  • up to 40 lines from a poem, not exceeding one-quarter of the whole.

.... PROVIDED that you include a proper acknowledgement of the author and the source of the material you are using ie a proper citation. (This is REQUIRED by law, as well as being good practice in avoiding accusations of plagiarism!)

However, the Publishers Association in their Permissions Guidelines of March 2008 now state:

"Previous industry rules of thumb that extracts of up to 400 words are somehow ‘safe’ are now misleading and positively dangerous."

... though they also somewhat more helpfully advise:

"There must be a significant element of actual criticism and review of the work being copied (i.e. substantial comment, as opposed to mere reproduction), although this is sometimes interpreted liberally;".

The best advice is to be very careful as to the amount being quoted, think about it's 'quality' as well as the "quantity," and the likely commercial implications (if any) of including the quote - and if in doubt then seek further advice (as appropriate) from those listed on the Contacts page.

Also note that there is a similar provision in UK copyright legislation allowing you to copy insubstantial amounts of text (but not illustrations or photographs) for the purpose of reporting current events. This covers the situation when one newspaper quotes text that first appeared in another newspaper, and is unlikely to apply very often at the University.

4.    Are there any restrictions on making multiple photocopies?

The copying limits under the terms of fair dealing relate to ‘single copying’ by tutor or student. If a tutor wants to do multiple copying of an item for a module of study then more ‘rules’ apply.

If the rights holder is a publisher within the CLA scheme, then multiple photocopying for distribution to students during a particular course of study can be carried out subject to the ‘normal’ limitations under the CLA photocopying licence.

The number of multiple copies of any one item of copyright material made should not exceed the number needed to ensure that each recipient of instruction or student has one reproduction only.

To see the current list of UK publishers and their works excluded from the CLA scheme see the following:

To see a list of US publishers covered by the scheme, see the following:

If the publisher is outside of the scheme then you will have to apply directly to that company or organisation for permission to make multiple copies for class use. The rights holders will probably ask for the payment of additional fees for this clearance to use their material.

5. Can I photocopy newspapers and magazines?

The university has signed a licence with the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) which allows photocopying from all of the UK national newspapers, plus a number of regional newspapers.

The licence permits multiple copying of up to 250 copies of an article for the purposes of student teaching, but it does not licence copying of photographs or advertisements. Permission for this must be sought through the rights-holders for these items.

For further details please see the NLA Licence page.

6.    Is there copyright in a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is just like any other written work in that the person who wrote it or the organisation that had it created will own the copyright, and you cannot make multiple copies and distribute unless you have a licence from, or the direct permission of, the copyright owners.

Producers of ‘well-known’ questionnaires very rarely join in general licensing agreements, and often demand that you purchase all copies you intend to use from them directly, or charge a basic royalty on every copy you intend to make yourself and then distribute.

There may be circumstances in which the rights holders have given a general permission (or licence) for anyone to use the questionnaire, or where it is almost impossible to find out who does own the copyright, but in general you must get permission to duplicate and use a questionnaire that you haven’t devised yourself. Even if you want to adapt an existing questionnaire by altering the wording in some way, it is advisable to get permission first.

7. Can artistic and illustrative works be copied?

Illustrative material within a work has separate copyright to textual material. If the whole work itself is covered by the University's CLA licence then you can make multiple copies of the work and that illustration (as part of it) under the terms of the CLA licence.

For example, if you want to make 30 copies of an illustration appearing on one page of an article in a Journal covered by the licence for distribution in a class, then you should copy the whole page on which it appears (not just the illustration), if you don't want to copy the whole article.

For single-copy copying, you must work within fair dealing terms and limits. It should be noted that there is no adequate definition of what is meant by an insubstantial amount of the whole work when referring to an illustration, so care must be exercised not to infringe when copying such material.

Note that the scanning of illustrative material for mounting on a Virtual Learning Environment, such as DUO, MAY be covered by the terms of the CLA Scanning Licence, but you will need to check the terms and conditions before carrying out the scanning. Otherwise, however, scanning for distribution via any other electronic medium such as the Internet, is NOT currently covered by any University licence. You will have to seek permission from the rights holder if you want to do that

8.    Can 35mm slides be copied?

The creation of slides from copyrighted illustrations for display during a lecture  is allowed provided that the slides are not subsequently kept in a collection afterwards.

The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) says that this ban includes a lecturer’s personal collection (ie the slide should be destroyed after the lecture). The British Copyright Council advice is merely that the slide(s) so created should not become part of publicly accessible collections (ie any collection maintained by Library Services).

9.     I have purchased a copy of a television programme that I want to show to my students. Is this subject to a license?

Purchased recordings are not covered by any University copyright license that we manage. The terms for copying and non-commercial use may be listed on the recording's case or in the contents of the recording. If in doubt, make contact in writing with the copyright holder for permission to use it.

10.     What is the British University Film and Video Council (BUFVC) and why are we members?

The BUFVC is a service to which the University subscribes. We chiefly use the service to obtain copies of previously broadcast television programmes which are no longer available or difficult to access. The BUFVC has an extensive database (TRILT) of the programmes available. Academic staff can request copies of programmes through their website. For more information and instructions visit our webpage at

11.     Can I order all the recordings I need through the BUFVC?

We would advise academic staff to only use this service when no other options exist. We only permitted 12 recordings a year this way. If you can record a programme at the time it is broadcast please do so. Also check television channel listings because some programmes will be broadcast multiple times. If the broadcast is, or will be, available commercially (i.e. on DVD) it might be easier and quicker to purchase the recording rather than use the BUFVC.

12.     I have just received a BUFVC recording. Can I keep it?

The University is allowed to keep it, which means you can hold onto it if you will use it again for teaching purposes. If you will not be using it again, you should offer it to the University Library so that it can be catalogued and used by other staff and students.

13.     Are subscription television channels covered by the ERA license?

The ERA license only covers scheduled free-to-air broadcasts. For a list of what is covered please visit the ERA website.

14.     I have recorded an Open University programme for single use. Do I still need to report it?

Yes. It will be marked as recorded and deleted in the same year. We will be charged once.


15.     Can copies be made of sound recordings?

Copying sound recordings can be carried out lawfully in only a limited number of circumstances eg

  • under fair dealing terms for the purpose of criticism or review
  • for the purpose of inclusion in an examination
  • for supporting the teaching of film or film sound-track studies
  • under the terms of a licence from the rights holder or representative organisation
  • with the direct permission of the rights holder

16.    What about video recordings?

The University currently holds a licence from the Education Recording Agency (ERA) which permits the recordings of a large propotion of radio, television and cable output (apart from Open University and Open College programmes for which it holds a separate OU licence).

This means in effect that any programme from the four major radio and TV suppliers (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) may be recorded off-air on University premises or at home without infringing copyright, provided that its re-showing is solely for educational purposes..

It is still not permissible to make a copy of any existing video recording (whether bought, borrowed, or recorded off-air) without the permission of the copyright owner. However, s. 34(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 allows you to play a video for the purposes of instruction at an educational establishment, and this covers commercially available videos irrespective of warnings about them being licensed for ‘home use only’.

17. Can I show or play programmes using the BBC iPlayer?

The BBC iPlayer Service allows you to watch or listen to BBC programmes for up to seven days after broadcast (via the Click to Play or ‘streaming’ facility) or to download them to your own computer and watch or listen to them for a longer, but service-limited, period of time (normally up to 30 days) via the iPlayer Download Manager Software.

The service is primarily aimed at the individual ‘home user’ rather than students in a classroom environment. However, if you wish to ‘show’ a recent TV programme during a class by streaming it ‘live’ to those attending, providing the room is equipped with the appropriate equipment to display it then you can do so.

If you have downloaded the iPlayer Download Manager Software onto your own laptop and then downloaded and recorded a programme, then you could bring that laptop into a class and, if facilities allowed, connect it to the display equipment and show the programme to the students in that class.

Please note that the other broadcast providers such as ITV, Channel 4 and Five offer similar services (ITV Player, Catch-Up and Demand Five respectively) but you are advised to check their sites for terms and conditions of use before planning on using them as sources for teaching material.

However, if you know of a programme that you want recording ahead of its broadcast (or even repeat broadcast) then you can make a recording of it under the terms of the University’s licences from the ERA or the Open University. You could then show that as many times as you like, and/or transfer it to DUO (as long as it can be viewed only on University premises).

If you miss the broadcast then there are services that can supply the University with copies of past programmes, but charges will apply.

For full details of the terms and conditions, please go to the ERA Licence or Open University Licence web pages.

18. Is there information available on how to upload materials legally onto DUO?

CIS provide guidance on uploading materials to the VLE at the following page


20. What are Creative Commons Licences?

Creative Commons Licences are pre-prepared licences intended to help copyright holders distribute their work, defining how it can be used by others whilst the authors retain their rights, particularly their copyright, in the work.

The Creative Commons movement has produced a number of licences (currently there are six main licences) which authors can take ‘as given’ or adapt to their requirements. The author then ‘attaches’ the appropriate licence to the work and that licence becomes the set of rules that the author expects the copiers to obey when they copy the work. The licences tend to be ‘more permissive’ than licences from commercial publishers, and their basic idea is to permit, and almost encourage, the copying of the works as long as due acknowledgement is given to the original author as its source.

19. What about Scanning?

Copyright legislation simply refers to 'copying' and doesn't distinguish between photocopying and scanning, so the same rules apply, ie for copying for non-commercial research and private study the same limits and restrictions on use apply to scanning as they do to photocopying.

In particular, you should NOT scan and then make multiple printed copies or re-publish and distribute the material in electronic form (ie via DUO, an Intranet, or the wider Internet), unless you have been given permission by the rights holders to do so, OR you are covered by the University’s CLA Scanning Licence agreement.

Even if you have had permission and paid fees to produce multiple printed copies (even under the university's photocopying licence), you must seek separate permission or check the licence terms if you wish to scan and then disseminate an electronic version of the same material.

The university’s scanning licence is quite restrictive in what material you can scan and how much you can copy from each item, and requires full recording of all scanning. For full details, please see the web pages on the CLA Scanning Licence before you start scanning any material.

If in doubt, please contact Katharine Davidson-Brown of the Library Digitisation Service.

20. What are Creative Commons Licences?

Creative Commons Licences are pre-prepared licences intended to help copyright holders distribute their work, defining how it can be used by others whilst the authors retain their rights, particularly their copyright, in the work.

The Creative Commons movement has produced a number of licences (currently there are six main licences) which authors can take ‘as given’ or adapt to their requirements. The author then ‘attaches’ the appropriate licence to the work and that licence becomes the set of rules that the author expects the copiers to obey when they copy the work. The licences tend to be ‘more permissive’ than licences from commercial publishers, and their basic idea is to permit, and almost encourage, the copying of the works as long as due acknowledgement is given to the original author as its source.

21. Where else can I get information about copyright?

The UK Government provides advice on copyright matters though various sources but the most comprehensive website dealing with copyright and other intellectual property (IP) matters is:

The JISC Legal Information Service for staff at UK Universities has produced a series of helpful briefing papers for tutors using e-Learning techniques who need advice on copyright etc:

If you are trying to locate the rights-holders for works that are copyright of a particular author (dead or alive) then The WATCH File database might help:

If you intend to carry out research by interviewing people, the Oral History Society have a very useful website concerning copyright issues in such circumstances:

22. What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

Intellectual Property (IP) is a legal concept which refers to outputs of creative endeavour for which exclusive rights are recognized. Under IP law, creators are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as literary works, artistic works, music, designs, discoveries and inventions. Common types of IP rights include copyright, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets.

IP can be divided into 2 categories : Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks and industrial designs The second category is Copyright, which literary and artistic works such as novels, poems, plays, films, musical works, and artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and architectural designs.

For further details on IP rights at Durham University please visit the Research Commercialisation Team page.