Please note that this is not a complete guide to copyright and should not be taken as legal advice.
You can check the Intellectual Property Office or the Copyright Licensing Agency websites for further details, or the Copyright Hub, which is a gateway to information about copyright.
Infringement of copyright is an offence under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Download the copying and copyright flowchart for some additional information.
What is copyright?
Copyright gives legal protection to the copyright owner of works such as books, articles, paintings, photographs, songs, radio broadcasts, etc., so that they can control the way in which that work is used. This will affect how you make use of these works, for instance when you want to photocopy, scan or “cut and paste” them. It is important that you check that any copying you want to do is permitted under the law or under any licences the University holds.
Why does copyright matter?
Copyright protects the rights of the creator (usually called the author) for the work they have created. Rights can be assigned or sold to another person or organization.
How long does copyright protection last?
Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died (or the last surviving author, if there was more than one). However there are some exceptions to this general rule and the duration of copyright also differs for sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical settings. See the Intellectual Property Office website.
How much can I copy?
- Up to 5% of a book, or a complete chapter - whichever is the greater.
- One article from a journal issue.
- A poem or short story that doesn’t exceed 10 pages in length.
- One report from a law report.
For further details, see the Copyright notices displayed next to the MFDs or read the definition of "fair dealing" on the Intellectual Property Office website.
The University holds licenses from: