- How much of a print book or journal can I legally copy?
Under UK copyright law you may copy an insubstantial amount for personal use for private study or non-commercial research. The law does not define the term insubstantial but it is usually taken to mean no more than one article from a journal issue or one chapter or up to 5% of a book.
Many of our publications are also coved by the Copyright Licensing Agency Basic Photocopying and Scanning Licence which allows you to make a single copy of:
- one chapter of a book
- one article from a journal issue or set of conference proceedings
- one short story or poem of not more than 10 pages from an anthology
- one law case from a volume of judicial proceedings
or 5% of a given work, whichever is the greater.
- Can I make multiple photocopies of a print journal article or book chapter for my students?
The answer is often yes, under the terms of the Copyright Licensing Agency Basic Photocopying and Scanning Licence. The following conditions apply:
- Copies should be made from a book or journal held in the Library or a departmental collection, or from a copyright fee paid copy of a chapter or article supplied by the British Library: ask your Academic Liaison Librarian about this option.
- You may make a single copy for each student enrolled on the course.
- Use the most recent edition unless there is a good reason for using an earlier one.
- The book should be published in a country covered by the licence, and not on a CLA list of exclusions.
Countries covered by CLA licence
Excluded categories and excluded works
List of excluded US publishers
- Can I make a scanned copy of a print journal article or book chapter available for my students?
Yes, but with the following restrictions – in addition to the conditions for making multiple photocopies (see question above):
- You should not scan a print journal or book if the Library already provides access to an electronic version – instead you should provide a link to the electronic version: for information about this see Linking to Online Articles.
- The scanned copy must be placed in a secure area such as SurreyLearn, accessible only to students enrolled on the course.
- There are various data reporting requirements.
- Can I make multiple copies of an electronic journal article or e-book chapter? Can I put it on SurreyLearn for my students?
This depends on the publisher and the licence signed by the Library when purchasing or leasing the item in question. Some publishers, such as Elsevier, Wiley and SAGE, allow articles and chapters to be included in print and electronic course packs; others prohibit this unless you obtain prior permission for which there is generally a fee.
You can in many cases eliminate the need for permission by giving your students the link to the full-text electronic version or linking to it from SurreyLearn: for information about this see Linking to Online Articles.
- What if I want to copy two chapters from a book or otherwise copy beyond the limits allowed by the University's licences?
You need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. Look on the publisher’s website for information on rights / permissions / copyright clearance: some websites offer online clearance. When seeking permission bear in mind the following:
- Allow plenty of time as publishers can take several weeks to reply.
- Get it in writing and keep it for future reference.
- Be aware that the copyright owner may impose conditions and costs.
- Do not assume that no reply equals consent.
- Can I make photocopies of an article from a print newspaper for my students?
Yes, provided that the newspaper is covered by the Newspaper Licensing Agency licence. A maximum of 250 copies may be made and copies should be marked “NLA licensed copy. No further copies may be made except under licence”.
- Can I copy an article from an online newspaper for my students?
The answer is generally no but check the terms and conditions on the newspaper’s website to make sure. Many newspapers allow readers to make a single copy for personal non-commercial use so you could give your students the relevant web link and ask them to visit the website and read or print a copy for themselves.
- Can I include images in my teaching materials?
The copyright of images is complicated. It is often difficult to trace the copyright owner of photographs but in UK law such ‘orphan works’ are still under copyright. However there are ways to make legal use of images without needing to seek permission.
- Under the terms of the Copyright Licensing Agency HE Licence you may photocopy images in print books or scan and add them to SurreyLearn within the licence’s restrictions.
- There are a number of specialist websites which offer copyright free images for educational use. You can usually – check the site’s terms and conditions – print and download these images and post them to SurreyLearn. A good starting point is the JISC Digital Media website, which offers an online tutorial on finding copyright free images for use in teaching and learning, plus a detailed written guide on Finding Video, Audio & Images Online.
- How can I include a TV or radio broadcast in my lecture?
The University has an ERA Plus Licence from the Educational Recording Agency which permits off-air recording for educational purposes of radio and TV broadcasts of ERA members including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, E4 and Channel 5. You can make and store digital recordings on the Box of Broadcasts service (accessible with your University of Surrey user account details): these can be played in a lecture or distributed to students in the UK via SurreyLearn.
For queries about BoB please contact the Department of Technology Enhanced Learning, email email@example.com.
- Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in my lecture? Can I put it on SurreyLearn?
The ERA Plus Licence does not cover the copying of commercially produced pre-recorded DVDs, videos and CDs: these may be played in a lecture but not made available via SurreyLearn.
- Can I play pre-recorded music in my lecture? Can I put it on SurreyLearn?
Pre-recorded music can be played in a lecture or seminar but if you want to copy it you must obtain the appropriate permission. Music copyright is both difficult and expensive to clear: however there are ways to make legal use of pre-recorded music without the need to seek individual permissions.
- The University has a Limited Online Music Licence from PRS for Music which authorises the adding of online music tracks to SurreyLearn for on-demand streaming.
- There are numerous websites which provide free and / or paid music online which have little or no rights restrictions. Check the terms and conditions to make sure you are allowed to use the material in the way you intend. The JISC Digital Media website offers an online tutorial on finding sites that host free to use music and sound effects, plus a detailed written guide on Finding Video, Audio & Images Online. It also has a useful set of frequently asked questions on audiovisual copyright.
- Can I include copyright material in exam questions?
Yes, under UK copyright law there is a specific exception which allows copying for the purposes of examination – setting, communicating and answering questions. However, if you want to publish exam papers on the Web you need to exclude copyright material or ensure you have permission for its inclusion.
- Should I sign the publisher's copyright agreement when my article is accepted for publication?
Don't sign on the dotted line without reading the agreement first. Each publisher has its own publication agreement so the rights you retain will vary. If you transfer your copyright without keeping any rights you may be limiting your ability to reuse your work, distribute it or communicate it to the public. Always check carefully to see what rights you are retaining. If the agreement is too restrictive you can negotiate to keep the rights to use the work in the way that you want.
Please see Author Rights and Copyright for further advice on this.
- Can I put all my published papers on a website for others to read?
The answer is probably no. When publishing these papers it is likely that you signed a copyright transfer agreement giving the publisher the exclusive right to distribute the publication and communicate it to the public. Read the publication agreement for each journal article to see which rights you retained.
The current version of the copyright agreement is usually displayed on the ‘for authors’ section of the publisher’s website.
Theses & Dissertations
- Do I need to ask permission to include other people's work in my thesis?
Traditionally, it has been accepted that third party copyright materials - extracts from books or journals, or illustrations such as images, maps, photographs etc - can be included in the print version of a thesis without seeking permission. They should however be properly acknowledged and referenced.
The situation changes when making the thesis available on the web. Since an electronic version is going to be deposited in Surrey Research Insight, the University's open access repository, you must either obtain permission from the rights holders to include third party copyright materials or remove them. The same applies if you want to publish your thesis.
For further guidance and templates for permission seeking letters see Including Third Party Copyright Material in your Thesis
Copyright for students
- What is copyright?
Copyright gives the creators of original works the right to control how their works can be used. The following types of work are protected:
- literary, dramatic and musical works which include web pages, computer programs and lyrics
- artistic works which include photographs, maps and charts
- sound recordings, films and broadcasts
- typographical arrangements of published editions: the way the words are arranged on the page
The person who owns the work and copyright has rights over how it is copied, adapted, distributed rented or performed. For more information on copyright and how long it lasts see the Library web pages on Copyright Information.
- When can I copy materials?
There are a number of exceptions in UK law which allow you to copy protected material without the prior permission of the copyright owner. There is a ‘fair dealing’ exception which allows you to make a single copy for personal use for private study or research. The amount which may be copied is not specified but is usually taken to mean one article from a journal issue, or one chapter or up to 5% of a book.
Please note that sound recordings, e.g. music CDs, films and broadcasts are not covered by fair dealing for private study or research and so may not be copied in this way.
- Can I copy materials for coursework and assignments?
Under the examination exception you can copy for the purpose of answering examination questions and this includes assessed work that will count towards a final examination mark. So you can copy material for incorporation in an essay, assignment etc. or as appendices to a dissertation, for example. You must always clearly acknowledge the source or you may be guilty of plagiarism.
If you are contemplating making your work publicly available e.g. by publishing on the web, display, exhibition etc. you will need to exclude copyright material or obtain written permission from the copyright owner for its inclusion.
- How much can I copy from a website?
The Internet makes copying very easy but, unless there is an explicit statement to say otherwise, all material on the web is protected by copyright. Check the site’s terms and conditions – there is usually a link from the homepage – to see what you can and cannot do. If no guidance is given you may make one copy, electronic or print, for your own private study or research in line with the limits set out above.
If you are creating your own website express your ideas in your own words. Adapting another site’s web pages is a breach of copyright law. Do not use frames or other forms of display which might give the impression that somebody else’s website is your own work.
- What if I want to copy more?
You should ask the owner for permission. Many copyright owners will be prepared to give permission to students for educational use. Make clear what you will be using the material for and follow any requirements they make, for example that you indicate the author. Do not assume that no reply equals consent.
- Can I download music from a website?
You must not download music from the web unless the site permits it and you must not take part in file sharing. Both are breaches of copyright and could have serious consequences for you and for the University.
- Who will lose out if I copy without permission?
It could have a serious impact on the income of the author, artist or composer, the publisher, the record or film production company. Remember copyright law is there to protect people and in the future may protect something you create or produce.
- What will happen if I copy too much of someone's work?
Anyone who infringes copyright by copying a protected work without the permission of the copyright owner is committing a serious offence. If you do this in the course of studying you could be guilty of plagiarism and will be subject to disciplinary action. Breaching copyright law could ultimately give rise to legal action against you or the University. This could result in fines or imprisonment under civil and criminal law.
- Where can I find out more?
Detailed guidance on copyright, how copyright material can be used lawfully, UK legislation and the various licences held by the University, is available on the Library web pages at Copyright Information.
For further information on copyright compliance please contact the Copyright and Digital Resources Advisor, Gill Dwyer.
For further information see:
or contact the Copyright and Digital Resources Advisor, Gill Dwyer
or your Academic Liaison Librarian
Copyright FAQ Leaflet (183.14KB - Requires Adobe Reader)
Copyright FAQ for Students Leaflet (159.73KB - Requires Adobe Reader)