Staff and students will regularly use copyrighted material such as books, music, films and other works. These can be resources you have purchased, borrowed from the Library or found online. You can copy from these copyrighted sources for your own non-commercial research and private study but there are limits as to how much and what you can copy. The Copyright Guide for Students is written to help students and researchers understand the copyright issues involved in using 3rd party copyright material. Guidance specifically related to teaching and provision of teaching materials can be found on the copyright issues related to teaching. Separate guidance covering the University’s Intellectual Property Policy is also available.
Although the University has a responsibility to ensure that students and researchers are aware of copyright and comply with the law, it is the responsibility of the person making the copy or reusing other people's material to ensure that they do not infringe copyright.
Copyright law aims to strike a balance between the rights of the copyright owner to control how their work is used and the rights of re-use, such as 'Fair Dealing'. It does this by providing some useful copyright exceptions that allow copyright material to be copied without infringing copyright and by the provision of licences that allow 3rd party copyright material to be used without infringing copyright.
The most important Copyright exception for students and researchers is the ‘fair dealing’ exception for copying for non-commercial research and private study.
Researchers and students are allowed to copy limited extracts of works for non-commercial research and private study. This includes text, images, sound and video recordings. The amount is limited by fair dealing and must be sufficiently acknowledged. The amount which may be copied is not specified by the legislation but often the amounts listed below are used as a rule of thumb to decide if the copying is fair. However, in some cases fair dealing could be more or less than these limits. The person copying must decide if the use is fair.
- One chapter or up to 5% of a book, whichever is the greater;
- One article from a journal issue or set of conference proceedings;
- One short story or poem of up to 10 pages from an anthology;
- One case from a law report.
If you need help or advice regarding copyright, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your academic librarian.
FAQs- General copyright queries
Copyright law protects the economic rights of authors and publishers by prohibiting copying of their works except in certain circumstances. Copyright protection begins when a work is created, whether written, photographed, recorded, etc., and lasts, in most cases, for 70 years from the end of the year of death of the author. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 sets out the circumstances where copying is permitted.
The most useful fair dealing exceptions for students and researchers are:
- Private study or non-commercial research – S. 29
- Text or data analysis - S. 29A
- Critique or review the work - S. 30
- Make a direct quote from a work – S. 30
- Copy a work for the purposes of caricature, parody and pastiche - S. 30A
- Perform a play or reading for educational purposes – S. 34
- Play a sound recording, film or broadcast for educational purposes – S. 34
More information on the exceptions is available from Gov.UK.
Copyright protection begins when a work is created. Once it has expired, anyone can use or copy the work. The duration of copyright depends on several factors including the type of work, whether it is published or unpublished, whether the creator is known or unknown and whether transitional arrangements from previous copyright legislation apply. The list below is a useful guide to start from when deciding if material is still in copyright.
|Type of work||Duration of copyright|
|Written, dramatic, musical and artistic work||70 years after author's death|
|Sound and music recording||70 years from when it was first published|
|Films||70 years after the death of the director, screenplay author and composer|
|Broadcasts||50 years from when it was first broadcast|
|Layout of published editions of written dramatic or musical works||25 years from when it was first published|
'Fair dealing’ is an exception allowable in UK Copyright Law that allows anyone to copy from copyrighted material. Unlike The CLA HE Licence, the amounts that can be copied are not defined. As there are no are no defined limits of what is fair, each individual must make a judgment and decide whether their copying is fair if they are relying on 'fair dealing' as their defence. Questions that might help you decide whether the use is fair are:
- Is the amount copied reasonable and appropriate to the context?
- Have I copied no more than I need to?
- Does the copying negatively affect sales of the work?
- Have I acknowledged the work appropriately?
Unless there is a specific reason why you cannot acknowledge the sources, there must always be sufficient acknowledgment of the copyright owner and source of the material if the use is to be considered fair.
Creative Commons offers a simple method for licensing the reuse of a copyright-protected work. The Creative Commons web site offers a choice of predefined licences using concise symbols that can be combined in different ways.
There are many sources of information including videos and images on the internet which are created under licences such Creative Commons Licenses that allow the content to be re- used and in some cases adapted for re-use. You can use the Creative Commons Search to search for free content in the public domain and under Creative Commons licenses.
Pixabay is a useful resource for copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist - even for commercial purposes. However, best practice is always to acknowledge use of other people's materials. If individual citations with each image are not appropriate, you could always add an acknowledgment stating, for example, that all images are sourced from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/ and available under the terms of the Pixabay licence, if this was applicable.
Pixabay is not the only source of copyright free images and information and guidance on finding images is available on the library's Newspapers and multimedia guide.
Information on best practices for crediting images is available from https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/best_practices_for_attribution. Remember,even if you find a CC0 image, it is best practice to provide an attribution.
FAQs - Using copyright material for coursework
The Fair Dealing exceptions will allow you to include what you like when answering an exam question or creating a course work that is to be assessed. You must only copy what is required for the purpose of answering the question or illustrating the point and no more. The copyright material must always be properly acknowledged unless this is not possible.
Always read and follow the guidelines in your module handbook regarding any assignment. These guidelines will include information and advice about copyright as well as information regarding student regulations. Some things that you will definitely need to consider are:
- Does your video contain any 3rd party copyrighted material?
This is copyrighted material that has been created by another person. You should try not to include any 3rd party copyrighted material within your video. There are many sources of copyright free music and images available. The Creative Commons Website contains a listing of sites that offer music published under a Creative Commons license and you can use the Creative Commons search to find images that you can use in your video. More information is available on our multimedia pages.
If you need to include third party copyright material in your course work video it may be possible to include very small amounts of copyright material if it is 'insubstantial' or 'incidental', or is covered by one of the fair dealing exceptions e.g. Illustration for Instruction or Criticism Review or Quotation. For fair dealing you must use no more than is required and there must be sufficient acknowledgment. However, you also need to consider what happens to your video after the assignment. If the video is to be made openly available then you could not rely on the fair dealing exceptions and you may well need to get written permission from the copyright owner.
- Where will the completed video be posted or shown. e.g. on a public website such as YouTube or just internally on My Learning Space?
- Will your video be filmed in a public place?
If you are filming in a privately owned space, e.g., museum, library, shop, etc. you should obtain permission to film there.
FAQs - Copyright and e-theses
Copyright law does allow referenced quotation of other people's work. If you have used 3rd party copyright material you should usually be able to rely on one of the 'fair dealing' exceptions such as illustration for instruction, or criticism, review or quotation to include this material for the purpose of examination. Remember the use must be fair.
The fair dealing exclusions may also cover the use of very small amounts of 3rd party copyright material in the e-thesis but our advice, and best practice, is to contact the rights holder to ask for permission to include the material in your e-thesis. Remember if a copyright owner challenged the use of their material in your e-thesis you would need to be confident that you could defend its inclusion using one of the copyright exceptions if you have not obtained their written consent.
Obtaining permission to use 3rd party copyright content can be a lengthy process so we recommend that you start as soon as possible. If the rights holder does not reply within a reasonable length of time, you should contact them again, as you cannot interpret a lack of response as permission to go ahead. If you need advice on contacting publishers, then email email@example.com and library staff will be happy to advise. You can use or adapt the suggested wording below when contacting the copyright owner for permission.
I am a PhD student at Abertay University and I am contacting you to seek permission to include the following material within the electronic version of my PhD thesis:
[Provide full details of the material you intend to include]
The thesis will be deposited in the university's open access repository, https://rke.abertay.ac.uk/, which is a non-commercial repository and openly available to all. A copy of the thesis will also be available from the British Library Electronic Thesis service EThOS. A full citation will be included to acknowledge the copyright holder of the material included in the thesis.
If you are not the rights holder for this material I would be grateful if you could let me know who I should contact for permission. If you require any further information, please let me know.
Thank you for your help.
If you are unable to obtain permission to include the copyright material in your e-thesis you can choose to submit a redacted thesis with the copyright material removed to an appendix which will be embargoed. The inclusion of copyright material in your e-thesis requiring an embargo should be detailed on the Embargo Request Form (RD08) available from the research support pages. If you need to submit a redacted thesis to Abertay's Open Access repository, email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Students are never expected to pay fees requested by copyright owners to include 3rd party copyright material in their e-thesis.
If you want to include the published version of research papers or book chapters in your thesis, this may be possible:
- If you retained the copyright of the article or chapter.
- If the article was published under a Creative Commons License.
- If the publisher allows you to include the published version in your e-thesis.
However, in many cases when publishing their research, authors transfer the copyright of their material to the publisher. If you have not retained the copyright then you will need to write to the publisher to ask for permission to include for example the published article in your e-thesis as it is is unlikely that the fair dealing exception would cover this. (However, remember inclusion of the articles in your examination copy would usually be covered by one of the fair dealing exceptions).
If you are unable to add the published version of the article to your thesis, then it may be possible to add the post-print version of the article to your e-thesis. You can use Sherpa/Romeo service to check the publisher's copyright and self-archiving policies, and library staff are happy to advise on this. Email: email@example.com for advice.
The ideal is to make your e-thesis openly available with no redacted or embargoed content, and students are expected to make best efforts to seek permission. However, if you are unable to obtain permission because the rights owner does not reply / wants to charge you for using the material / does not reply, or the task of tracing the rights owner is very onerous, then you will not be penalised if you need to redact 3rd party copyright material from your e-thesis. If you need to redact material from your e-thesis then please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
FAQs - Copyright and Research
Yes. UK copyright law allows researchers to make copies of works ‘for text and data analysis’. This means that where a user has lawful access to a work (e.g. an e-journal or database subscription) they can make a copy of it for the purpose of carrying out a computational analysis of anything recorded in the work.
The exception only applies under the following conditions:
- the analysis must be for the purpose of non-commercial research;
- the copy is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgment (unless this is practically impossible).
Copyright is infringed if the copy made is transferred to another person, or it is used for purposes different than those permitted by law. Copies made for text and data analysis cannot be sold or let for hire.
Yes.When presenting your research at a conference,Copyright guidance concerning the incorporation of other people’s work into your research still applies.
You should ensure you have permission to use any 3rd party materials unless the material is licensed for re-use with a Creative Commons License or copyright has expired. You may also be able to use extracts of works under one of the fair dealing exceptions. However, bear in mind that many conference presentations are recorded and shared online making any breaches of copyright a higher risk. If you need further advice, email email@example.com or contact your academic librarian.
The answer is maybe but caution is required as some publishers do not allow sharing of work on 'for-profit' or commercial repositories, which both these websites are.
In most cases a full text version of your research output will already be available from Abertay's Open Access repository. All open access content posted on Abertay's repository has been checked to ensure that it compiles with the publisher's self-archiving policy.