Copyright

Quick guide to copyright and e-journals

FAQ on copyright

Questions applicable to everybody

1-1 How much may I photocopy from books and journals?
1-2 When else can I copy material?
1-3 How long does material stay in copyright?
1-4 If the work is out of copyright, may I then copy it freely?
1-5 I own this book/journal, so why can't I photocopy as much as I want of it?
1-6 May I scan this article to include in a website?
1-7 May I copy this article onto a CD-ROM?
1-8 What may I do with a web page without seeking permission?
1-9 May I include this link in my web page?
1-10 Can I download or print articles from electronic journals?
1-11 What is 'literary material' in copyright terms?
1-12 How do I get permission to copy material?

Questions on special materials

2-1 What is 'artistic material' in copyright terms?
2-2 What are the rules on copying maps?
2-3 What are the rules on copying UK Official Publications (HMSO publications, Government publications)?
2-4 What are the rules on copying UK newspapers?
2-5 What are the rules on copying printed music and recorded music?
2-6 What are the rules on recording radio and TV broadcasts (not Open University)?
2-7 What are the rules on recording Open University TV broadcasts?
2-8 What are the copyright issues involved in Oral History and similar projects?
2-9 What are the rules on making slides from artistic works (eg from illustrations in books)?
2-10 May I include this image in my web page?

Questions applicable to students

3-1 May I reproduce this material for my thesis / dissertation / project / assessed essay?

Questions applicable to staff

4-1 I wrote this paper / chapter / book, so why can't I photocopy as much as I want of it?
4-2 Can I copy this for my research?
4-3 Do I need permission to show a copyright image by making a 35mm or OHP slide for a one-off lecture?
4-4 Do I need permission to show a copyright image using an epidiascope or similar device?
4-5 May I print out a web page and duplicate it for my students?
4-6 May I make multiple photocopies to hand out in class, either piecemeal or as a pack of course readings?
4-7 May I copy for Distance Learners?
4-8 What are the rules on copying for Visually Impaired students?
4-9 I wrote this article, so can I put a photocopy of it in the library's Short Loan Collection?
4-10 May I reproduce this material in an exam question I am setting?
4-11 May I make copies to hand out to people other than students and fellow-staff?

Questions applicable to libraries

5-1 What are the rules on copying done by Library staff (eg Special Collections material, remote sites, remote readers)?
5-2 What does the CLA licence let me do?
5-3 What are the rules on copying audiovisual materials?
5-4 What are the rules on copying unpublished materials?
 

Questions applicable to everybody

1-1 How much may I photocopy from booksand journals?

Anybody can copy an 'insubstantial amount'. This is not defined in law, but almost certainly precludes anything materially useful by itself. A single copy of a 'substantial amount' may be copied under fair dealing for private study or for research for a non-commercial purpose, and the generally accepted upper limits of what constitutes a substantial amount that can be copied within 'fair dealing' is as follows:

  • One photocopy of one article in a serial publication or in a set of conference proceedings or in a collective work (other than a poem, short story or other literary work in a collection of such works);
  • One photocopy of one complete chapter from a book; 
  • One photocopy of one case report from a law report;
  • Up to 5% of a physical volume of any of the above (which may be greater than one article, chapter or report, or may include extracts from more than one such article, chapter or report);
  • One short story or poem in a collective work, up to ten pages in length.

Any more than this is not fair dealing. Nor is it fair dealing to copy, say, one article from a book or journal on one occasion and another article from the same book or journal on another occasion. Note also that introductory and similar matter (title pages, contents lists, bibliographies, notes) are not excluded: in a single work they are part of the work and count for decisions on the amount and whether the extracts are separate or not; in a compilation or a critical edition they are separate works.

There is no overall agreement about downloading from electronic journals. Licence conditions vary, and should always be checked. In general, however, you should not try to download more than the amounts indicated above.

1-2 When else can I copy material?

 

Fair dealing also covers the use of short extracts from a work (up to 400 words; or several shorter passes totalling less than 800 words) for criticism or review, provided that adequate acknowledgement of the source is given. Written works (but not pictures) may also be copied in the context of news reporting.

See below for use in examinations by staff or students.

1-3 How long does material stay in copyright?

The work is copyright until 70 years after the death of the author (last surviving author, if more than one author). Note that translators, editors &c count as additional authors and that their contributions to works are additional works -- the editor's introduction will be in copyright until 70 years after the editor's death. For works with many authors (anthologies, serials) each individual contribution has its own copyright, which expires seventy years after the death of its particular author. Anonymous works (including works issued by corporate bodies without identification of authors, and pseudonymous works whose true authorship is unknown) are in copyright for 70 years from publication. Illustrations in works have their own copyright, see the questions on special materials.

The date of death of the author is the determining factor for the duration of copyright regardless of whether the author retains the copyright. Many publishers, especially of serials, require authors to assign copyright to the publisher. This makes it easier for the publisher to handle requests to use the material, but does not affect the duration. Publishers (and other corporate bodies) only own the actual copyright from day one if a work is created in the course of the author(s)' employment by the publisher, in which case the work is treated as being created by a corporate body and copyright will expire seventy years after creation.

There are different rules for some special materials.

1-4 If the work is out of copyright, may I then copy it freely?

The edition itself (i.e. the typographical and other material aspects of the work) is protected by copyright for 25 years after publication. So you may not copy the whole of, say, a Dickens novel if the printed work you are using as the source of the copy was published in the last 25 years. There is a similar right called 'publication right' that may apply to old material being published for the first time. This also lasts for 25 years. Apart from this there are no restrictions for out-of-copyright publications.

1-5 I own this book/journal, so why can't I photocopy as much as I want of it?

You have bought the physical item, you have not bought the intellectual property rights in it. The copyright-holder has the sole right to make copies or allow them to be made, apart from the exceptions allowed by law, such as fair dealing.

1-6 May I scan this article to include in a website?

The law specifically declares that electronic copying and storage count as copying and infringe copyright where it exists. Moreover, putting the article on a website would also count as 'publication', compounding the offence. However, the University has signed the CLA digitisation licence allowing it to scan licensed material for a password-protected VLE. Oxford Brookes University has produced the following useful guide to help its staff determine what may and may not be scanned under the terms of the licence: Scanning materials for delivery in WebCT: Guidelines for staff (published by Oxford Brookes University Directorate of Learning Resources). Outside the bounds of the licence you need explicit permission to scan items in copyright.

1-7 May I copy this article onto a CD-ROM?

 

The law specifically declares that electronic copying and storage count as copying and infringe copyright where it exists. You may probably rely on the 'fair dealing' defence of making a single copy for private study or for research for a non-commercial purpose, but only if you have made just the one copy onto a CD-ROM, deleted any copies on your hard drive and do not make copies of the CD-ROM.

1-8 What may I do with a web page without seeking permission?

You may print out a copy of a web page for your own personal use. You may probably make a single copy to store electronically for private study or for research for a non-commercial purpose. Look for a statement on the page or site which allows further use, you may do as it allows. Look at the site home page, and follow links such as 'Copyright', 'About this site', 'Legal', or 'Help'.

1-9 May I include this link in my web page?

You may include a link to the home page of a web site, but do not make it appear that the contents are your own. This means that you should not link it within a frame so that the title bar and address bar still have your title and URL. You should refresh the entire window or open it in a new window. It is also good practice to indicate that the user is leaving your site.

You should not normally link to a page other than the home page without checking the page itself and the site home page, and following links such as 'Copyright', 'About this site', 'Legal', 'Info' or 'Help'. If there is nothing which asks you not to 'deep link' (link other than to the home page), it is probably all right to do so. If a site owner asks you to notify them when making a link, you should do so. If a site owner asks you to remove a link, you should usually do so.

1-10 Can I download or print articles from electronic journals?

There is no overall agreement about downloading from electronic journals. The University subscribes to gain access to them under licence. Licence conditions vary, and should always be checked. In general, however, you should not try to download or print more than the amounts indicated for 'fair dealing' photocopying in Question 1-1 above. Disregard of the licence conditions relating to downloading and printing can result (and has resulted on past occasions) in the University's access to the journal being blocked.

1-11 What is 'literary material' in copyright terms?

It is anything recorded in words, letters or digits, regardless of literary merit, and even extends to computer programs.

1-12 How do I get permission to copy material?

Look for the copyright statement. If the work is copyrighted to the publisher, write to them. If it is copyrighted to the author, write to the author, care of the publisher. If the author is dead, the publisher should know the literary heirs. If the publisher is now untraceable, try to write directly to the author or his/her heirs. There are some web sites which help for literary figures, especially WATCH: Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders (www.watch-file.com/). If you can demonstrate you have made best efforts but failed to trace the copyright holder, then a note to that effect and a promise to act upon the wishes of the copyright holders, should they emerge, should be enough to defuse any potential legal situation, but in cases of doubt you do need to seek legal advice before making what is, after all, a prima facie infringement.

 

Note that you cannot write to a copyright-holder to the effect, 'If I do not hear from you, I will presume that you give permission'. Consent must be explicit.

 

Questions on special materials

2-1 What is 'artistic material' in copyright terms?

Artistic material is anything portrayed graphically, including paintings, photographs, maps, charts and diagrams. Note that artistic material used in a printed (or online text) work very often has a separate copyright from the text in the work. Note also that there can be multiple copyrights: both the photographer and the artist may each own the relevant element of the copyright of a photograph of a painting.

2-2 What are the rules on copying maps?

For older maps the situation is complex. Modern maps are treated as artistic works -- copyright resides with the creator of the map and lasts for seventy years after his or her death.

Oxford University members may copy an entire Ordnance Survey map, under licence from the OS. For other users, an A4-sized extract from an OS map may be copied within 'fair dealing' terms. For other maps, the rules for artistic works apply. Note that, apart from the exceptions outlined here, libraries cannot copy copyright maps on your behalf.

2-3 What are the rules on copying UK Official Publications (HMSO publications, Government publications)?

Crown Copyright legislation, unpublished public records, government press notices, and National Curriculum material for England and for Wales, may be copied freely.

Oxford University has a 'Click-Use' core licence with HMSO. This allows not just photocopying but also scanning, re-publication (e.g. on a web site),or placing multiple copies in a library, of core government material, i.e. information that is central to the process of government and is subject to Crown copyright protection. This is above and beyond the Crown Copyright waiver mentioned above, but excludes the 'value-added' material which is sold on a commercial basis.

2-4 What are the rules on copying UK newspapers?

Oxford University has a licence agreement with the Newspaper Licensing Agency but it is complex - the University's Press and Information Office should be consulted about any proposed use.

2-5 What are the rules on copying printed music and recorded music?

Fair dealing rules apply, but it is difficult to copy just 5% of a musical work. The Music Publisher's Association says that anything copied should be less than a performable piece, and should not be intended for performance. There are special rules about copying for performance. See below for use in examinations by staff or students.

Where sound recordings are concerned, copies of short extracts may be made for criticism or review. There are no other fair dealing provisions. Copying from one tape to another (including changing medium, e.g. film to video, obsolete or incompatible video format to modern video format) is not permitted, not even for preservation/safety back-up purposes.

The producer -- i.e. the person/body who made the arrangements for the recording -- owns the copyright in a sound recording as such. Note that this is copyright only in the recording as a recording -- there is a separate copyright in the content, e.g. the words spoken or sung, as a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. Even the impromptu words in an interview attract copyright.

For sound recordings, copyright lasts for fifty years from the initial release. If a sound recording remains unreleased, copyright lasts for fifty years from the date of creation

2-6 What are the rules on recording radio and TV broadcasts (not Open University)?

Oxford University has an ERA (Educational Recording Agency) licence which means that you may make off-air recordings (including satellite and cable broadcasts) for educational purposes. The law also states that if no licensing body is authorised in this country to license a broadcast, it may be recorded. This means that you can also record non-UK programmes. Note that Open University programmes are excluded as there is a separate licensing scheme for them.

2-7 What are the rules on recording Open University TV broadcasts?

Oxford University has an Open University licence. It includes a pay-per-item-per-year provision, and Academic Services and University Collections should be notified of any copies made (email charles.shaw@admin.ox.ac.uk).

2-8 What are the copyright issues involved in Oral History and similar projects?

The Oral History Society (www.oralhistory.org.uk) has good guidelines. The copyright in the words spoken (provided they are original) resides with the speaker, and it is good practice to make clear to an interviewee the uses to which an interview will be put (including potential future uses) and to get signed agreement to those uses.

With few exceptions, UK copyright law provides no mechanism through which copyright interviews or recordings may be used without permission, for instance in cases where the copyright owners cannot be traced. Although form-filling may be irksome, it ensures that informants are made aware of the purpose of the interview and its future use, and that interviews are not subject to exploitative or other undesirable uses.

The copyright in the recording resides with the person who made the recording, or with that person's employer if it was made in the course of employment.

 

2-9 What are the rules on making slides from artistic works (eg from illustrations in books)?

Permission should be sought from the copyright owner in every case.

2-10 May I include this image in my web page?

Permission should be sought from the copyright owner in every case, unless the image comes from an explicitly copyright-free source (e.g. some clip-art sites).

 

Questions applicable to students

3-1 May I reproduce this material for my thesis / dissertation / project / assessed essay?

Anything may be copied for the purposes of examination, which includes answering examination questions, and the submission of a thesis or other material upon which you will be examined and assessed. The only exception is that you may not copy sheet music in order to perform it. The other constraint to be aware of is that this exception applies only for 'the purposes of examination' and does not extend to any subsequent (or prior) use you may want to make of the material, including putting it on a web site, publishing it as a book, or putting copies on public display. If you want to do any of these things and have used material beyond the 'fair dealing' limits, you must obtain permission from the copyright holders. If the material is a web page or similar, it must only be accessible to those who will assess it.

 

Questions applicable to staff

4-1 I wrote this paper / chapter / book, so why can't I photocopy as much as I want of it?

Many journal publishers and some book publishers ask or require authors to cede copyright to them for publication. If you have done that, then copyright now belongs to the publisher and your position is no different from anybody else who wants to copy material - fair dealing rules apply. In recent years many publishers also offer a 'licence to publish' contract which leaves copyright with you while still protecting the publisher's commercial interest. It is worth asking about these if you are sent a copyright form to sign.

4-2 Can I copy this for my research?

The basic 'fair dealing' rules apply (see above) but research must be for a non-commercial purpose. The 'non-commercial' requirement for copying for research is a new provision introduced as a result of the implementation of the European Union Directive on Copyright. What counts as' commercial' is not defined but informed opinion suggests that it may include work done by an information broker, work done in drafting a book or book chapter for which the copier knows royalties will be paid, work done to assist in private medicine service, work done for a spin-off company owned by a University or charity (even if all profits are covenanted to the University or charity), work done by lecturers directly to produce a commercial textbook or equivalent, work done in drafting an article for a scholarly journal for payment or royalties, and work done in preparation for a conference speech for which a fee is received. Similar activities which are not directly paid, or are not directly and immediately work towards a commercial work, count as non-commercial. The intention at the point of copying is the key. You can legitimately copy something for research in general at one point in time, which later turns out to be useful in the preparation of a commercial work.

 

Members of the University are at present covered for commercial research copying by the University's CLA Licence.

4-3 Do I need permission to show a copyright image by making a 35mm or OHP slide for a one-off lecture?

You can make slides for one-off use but need permission if you want to keep them afterwards.

4-4 Do I need permission to show a copyright image using an epidiascope or similar device?

No, because such devices do not create a copy of the image, but only reflect the original object onto a screen.

4-5 May I print out a web page and duplicate it for my students?

Look for a statement on the page or site which allows further use, you may do as it allows. Look at the site home page, and follow links such as 'Copyright', 'About this site', 'Legal', or 'Help'. If you can't find one, or it does not give permission, then you need to seek permission.

4-6 May I make multiple photocopies to hand out in class, either piecemeal or as a pack of course readings?

The University has a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence which allows you to do this for the material which it licences (see their website for details of excluded works). The limits on the amount are as for fair dealing, see above.

4-7 May I copy for Distance Learners?

This depends on whether they are included in the return of student numbers which the University supplies to the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA). If they are, then you may; if they are not, then you may not. Your departmental administrator should be able to advise.

4-8 What are the rules on copying for Visually Impaired students?

Provided no adequate copy (e.g. large-print) is commercially available, copies may be made in order to render a work accessible to visually impaired students. These may be enlarged copies, audio tapes or CD-ROMs. The copies must be passed to the students for their personal use, but from 31 October 2003 a library or institution may hold master copies from which to make further copies for the same purpose for other students, provided full records are kept. (It is expected that the basic legal dispensation will shortly be superseded by a more flexible licence agreement with the CLA.) Dyslexia does not count as visual impairment for these purposes.

4-9 I wrote this article, so can I put a photocopy of it in the library's Short Loan Collection?

Many journal publishers and some book publishers ask or require authors to cede copyright to them for publication. If you have done that, then copyright now belongs to the publisher and your position is no different from anybody else who wants to copy material - fair dealing rules apply. If the material falls under the CLA licence, it is probably all right to do so, but check with the librarian.

4-10 May I reproduce this material in an exam question I am setting?

Anything may be copied for the purposes of examination, which includes setting examination questions. The only exception is that you may not copy sheet music for performance. The other constraint to be aware of is that this exception applies only for 'the purposes of examination' and does not extend to any subsequent (or prior) use you may want to make of the material, including putting it on a web site, or publishing copies of past examinations, or putting copies on public display. If you want to do any of these things and you have copied a substantial part of a work, you need to seek permission from the copyright holders.

4-11 May I make copies to hand out to people other than students and fellow-staff?

You can make multiple copies only within the terms of the CLA (or other) licence, which applies only to students and staff of the University.

 

Questions applicable to libraries

5-1 What are the rules on copying done by Library staff (eg Special Collections material, remote sites, remote readers)?

Where a mediated photocopying service (i.e. one where the library staff do the actual copying) is provided it is the responsibility of the library to ensure that it does not breach the regulations; a form signed by the requester (which must closely follow a model form given in the regulations) will absolve the library, so long as the librarian is not aware that the declaration is false. Note that a mediated photocopying service cannot copy artistic works under this provision, and that 'artistic' includes maps and charts. However, if the work is licensed by the CLA, illustrations in a textual work can be included.

The library cannot subsidise mediated photocopying or make a profit from it: the requester must pay 'a sum equivalent to but not exceeding the cost (including a contribution to the general expenses of the library or archive) attributable to their production'.

5-2 What does the CLA licence let me do?

It lets you put multiple photocopies of works you hold, and for which the CLA holds a licence, into a Short Loan collection. The limits are as for fair dealing, see above; note that this does prohibit the copying of more than one article from a journal issue.

Within Oxford, provided one library in the University (including the colleges) has a copy of the work, another library may take multiple copies from it within the limits of the CLA licence.

You can also supply multiple photocopies to staff for teaching purposes, on the same basis.

5-3 What are the rules on copying audiovisual materials?

There is no fair dealing provision for audio-visual materials. Nor may you copy audio-visual materials for preservation (i.e. you may not keep a master and make a separate copy to lend/use). However, material recorded off-air under licence (see above) may be copied further.

5-4 What are the rules on copying unpublished materials?

The fair dealing limits generally apply, but there are several areas of complication. One is that the rules on the expiry of copyright are complex; even very old material may still be subject to copyright, and in many cases copyright will not expire until 31 December 2039. Old material not subject to copyright may nevertheless be subject to 'publication right' if it is published: this gives the editor who prepares the text for publication a right akin to copyright, which lasts for 25 years.

Another is that it is important to distinguish ownership of the materials (especially in deposited material not owned by the library) and ownership of the copyright in the content. Permission to copy will be needed from both parties. There are often special restrictions on the use of theses; these are not rules embedded in copyright legislation, but must be observed as they are conditions of deposit.

One less restrictive provision is that older material in a public archive (such as a university library) may be copied 'with a view to publication'; but the actual publication can only take place once the necessary permissions have been acquired.


Based on FAQ developed by Leeds University Library. Note that this page does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice should be sought from the University's legal department in case of doubt.

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