Please note that this is not a complete guide to copyright and should not be taken as legal advice.

Infringement of copyright is an offence under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

View our online copyright helper for more specific advice.

You can also check the Intellectual Property Office or the Copyright Licensing Agency websites for further details, or visit the Copyright Hub, which is a gateway to information about copyright.

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?

The extent of copying permitted depends on the type of content, the intended use and whether a licence is available. Please see our copyright helper webpages for more specific advice about copying different types of material.

As a general rule you can copy for the purposes of:

  • personal non-commercial research or study
  • teaching

However, the amount of copying must be considered ‘fair dealing’ and the copyright holder should be acknowledged and attributed where appropriate.

Fair dealing is a case-by-case judgement, based on whether the copying:

  • is an insubstantial amount and strictly required for the purpose
  • financially disadvantages the copyright holder

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.


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 21:59:00