Changes to 1988 Copyright , Designs and Patents Act 

On 1st October and 1st June 2014 a number of significant amendments to the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) came into force in UK law. Of significance to lecturers and those involved with teaching are the revisions to Section 32 of the CDPA. This exception, which relates to copying for the purposes of instruction, has been widened.

This means that it is now possible to copy limited amounts of all types of copyright work for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction.

Lecturers can now:

The University also holds a licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency that allows, subject to the licence terms and conditions, copying and re-use of extracts of text and still images from printed books, journals and magazines and from digital publications. The full terms of the licence can be found on the CLA website and on the Notice for Display which is posted alongside all University printers and copiers provides a 1-page summary of what the licence covers.  

Below is a list of some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you need any further information, please contact your Academic Librarian.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is fair dealing?

Fair dealing is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright. There is no legal definition of fair dealing so it will always be a judgment that you have to make. The questions to ask are " Have I used only what I needed to illustrate/instruct the students"? "How would a fair-minded person have dealt with the work"? 

Although the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act does not clearly define the amount of original material that can be copied, the following limits are often suggested as a guide: one article from any one issue of a journal (even if that one article is the whole issue); one chapter or up to 5% (whichever is greater) of a book or similar publication; up to 10% of a short book of up to 200 pages; one poem or short story of up to 10 pages from an anthology; the report of one case in law reports. 

Unless there is a specific reason why you cannot acknowledge the sources, there must also be sufficient acknowledgment of the copyright owner and source of the material if the use is to be considered fair.

What are the limits for photocopying under the CLA HE licence?

There are set limits as to how much can be photocopied:

  • One complete chapter from a book 
  • One article from an issue of a serial publication or from a set of conference proceedings 
  • One short story or poem (not exceeding 10 pages in length) from an anthology of short stories or poems 
  • One whole scene from a play 
  • One whole paper from a set of conference proceedings 
  • For published reports of judicial proceedings, the entire report of a single case
  • Or 10% of any of the above, whichever is the greatest
What are the main differences between copying under the Copyright Licencing Agency Higher Education (CLA HE) Licence, and copying under the fair dealing exception?
  • The CLA He licence allows copying by Abertay staff and students. Fair dealing applies to any library user and allows them to copy materials for their own private research or study. 
  • The CLA HE licence allows multiple copies of a book chapter or journal article to be made for students on a particular module. Fair dealing does not allow multiple copies to be made. The CLA HE Licence also allows a chapter to be scanned and uploaded to Blackboard for students on a course (please note that the scanning can only be carried out by Library staff). Scanning of chapters for uploading to Blackboard is cannot be done under fair dealing. 
  • The CLA HE licence allows copying for research that is commercially funded. Fair dealing applies only to copying for non-commercial private research. 
  • Materials that can be copied under the CLA HE licence can be copied under fair dealing but not all material that can be copied under fair dealing can be copied under the CLA HE licence.
Can I add PDFs of journal articles to Blackboard or my online reading list?

When adding material to Blackboard it is your responsibility to ensure that you do not infringe copyright or break the terms of any of our online databases. The Library has produced a short guide (Copyright and Blackboard) to help you stay within the law. The guide advises that where possible you should link to content from Blackboard rather than uploading pdfs. The same advice applies to your online reading list. You should add links to the material rather than uploading PDFs. The library now has new reading list software Leganto and we advise that all links to books and journal articles should be made in Leganto.

Instructions on linking to material from Blackboard or your online reading list can be found below. 

  • Leganto Guide‌ -for online reading lists.
  • Creating links to journal articles from Blackboard‌ -The library recommends that links to journal articles be made in Leganto. If, however, there is a reason why the link should not be in Leganto these instructions show how to create the link to a journal article from a folder in Blackboard.
Can I copy copyrighted material for setting an exam question?

Yes you can copy copyright works for setting an examination question but examinations no longer have a standalone provision in UK Copyright Law. They are now included within the illustration for instruction exception so the amount covered must be fair and usually must include sufficient acknowledgment.

Can I make multiple paper copies of a book chapter or journal article for students on a specific module?

The CLA Higher Education Licence provides blanket permissions to photocopy within set limits from millions of books, journals and magazines for teaching purposes. The licence also allows, for example, a tutor to provide a copy of a book chapter to each student on a particular module.

However, staff are strongly encouraged to provide their students with course materials by either using their online reading list or links from Blackboard. Photocopies should only be provided when neither of these options are available. Staff requiring photocopies of materials for students on a particular module should complete the Abertay Print Services Request Form - June 2017 version and send this to Library staff will check if the material is covered by the CLA HE licence. 

Staff are reminded that in providing copies of material to their students that they do not create a substitute text book which would compete with a commercial available text. The CLA have created a Good Practice Guide, which all academic staff are strongly encouraged to read.

Can I scan a book chapter myself and upload this to Blackboard or my online reading list?


Only library staff are authorised to scan material under our CLA HE licence. To request a book chapter or journal article to be scanned for adding to your reading list or Blackboard you should use the online form. More information the scanning service can be found on the library pages.

Are all publications covered for photocopying for teaching by the CLA HE licence?Update

Most UK publications (but not all) and some US and international publishers allow photocopying of their material for teaching. There are, however, some works that are excluded from the Licence. These include printed music, newspapers and unpublished works.

If you are photocopying material for teaching it is your responsibility to check that the material is covered by the Licence and that you do not copy more than the limits listed above. Do not assume that you have permission to copy all material without making the appropriate checks.

When making multiple copies for a class the number of copies is limited so as to provide the students in the class with one copy each as well as one copy for the lecturer. The CLA have a useful tool - Check Permissions-  which will help you check if the publication you wish to photocopy is covered by the licence. Your Academic Librarian is always available to provide advice if you need it.

Where can I find images and videos?

There are now many sources of information including videos and images on the internet which are created under licences such Creative Commons Licences that allow the content to be re- used and in some cases adapted for re-use. For help on finding material licensed in this way have a look at Newspapers and Multimedia.

Copyright guides and training

Copyright Training for Lecturers. Produced by Jisc legal this online course takes about an hour to complete.

Good practice guide to copyright. From the Association of University Administrators (AUA).

Copyright User. An online resource aimed at making UK copyright law accessible to all copyright users.

The Library offers a Scanning/Digitization Service whereby book chapters and journal articles, subject to the terms of our CLA Licence, can be added to an online reading list or uploaded to Backboard. Library staff carry out all the copyright checks on your behalf. 

If you need any assistance with making links from Blackboard, adding content to your online reading lists or have questions about the Scanning/Digitization Service then your Academic Librarian will be happy to help. 

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