Copyright law in the UK derives mainly from the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CPDA) 1988 and protects content such as text, images, sound, moving images, etc. Copyright does not protect ideas but the way they are expressed, and in most cases the work must be written down or in permanent or fixed form to attract copyright.
Copyright legislation gives the creator (or owner of a work) the right to control how their material may be used. The creator will usually be the first owner of the rights, but if created in employment, the owner may be the employer. Heriot-Watt University is the owner of any copyright works created by staff, unless there is an agreement otherwise. See the University Policy in Intellectual Property, Confidential Information and Commercialisation.
Depending on the work the duration of copyright may last 25-70 years. After that, the work is in the public domain and may be reused for free without the need for permission from the copyright owner.
If you want to copy or use a copyright work then you usually need permission from the copyright owner, however the intended use may be covered by a licence or UK copyright law exception.
Blanket licences are used to provide general permissions or consents without the need to individually obtain these for each work and/or each intended use. An organisation or institution will pay a licence fee to a collecting society which can agree licences with users on behalf of owners and collect any royalties owed. Heriot-Watt University holds the following licences:
Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Licence
Permits the photocopying and scanning of limited extracts from printed books, journals and magazines for educational purposes. It also provides the permission to copy from a range of digital material. Information Services administers the licence and academic staff can request extracts of print material (book chapters, journal articles etc.) for Canvas using the Digital Copies Service. Only designated staff may provide scanned extracts of print material, a copyright notice must be attached and details reported annually to the CLA
Education Recording Agency (ERA) Licensing Scheme
Allows members of staff to record for educational purposes any radio or television broadcasts and cable output of ERA's members. Content (e.g. TV programmes, radio programmes, clips etc.) can be obtained via Box of Broadcasts (BoB) and embedded into presentations or Canvas courses. BoB is available via an Information Services subscription from the A-Z list of databases.
Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA): Higher Educational Licence
Permits the photocopying and scanning of limited extracts from newspapers. This license is designed to give access to newspapers for educational purposes. Extracts can be made available to students in print or via the VLE, however subscriptions to online services such as Nexis which provide newspaper and journal content generally provide greater access to material. Nexis is available is available via an Information Services subscription from the A-Z list of databases.
Creative Commons Licence
Free, easy-to-use licences for copyright material. The copyright owner decides how they would like their work to be reused and then applies the relevant licence. The licences make it easier to reuse online content and the standardised approach to reusing and repurposing materials promotes sharing and makes it easier to search for reusable content. Information on how to attribute material offered under a creative commons licence is available at: Best practices for attribution.
Exceptions Relating to Learning and Teaching
In 2014 a number of amendments to the CDPA came into force. These were part of a government attempt to modernise copyright law and make fit for the digital age following the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review in 2011. The exceptions below are those that relate to teaching and not a comprehensive list.
Many of the exceptions refer to “fair dealing” which is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or if it infringes copyright. Fair dealing is not defined and requires a judgement to be made. Where the use would not adversely affect sales of the work and where the amount copied is reasonable and appropriate to the context then it is likely that it would be considered fair dealing.
Research and private study (S.29)
This exception allows academic staff and students to make single copies of limited extracts of copyright works for non-commercial research or private study (e.g. a chapter of a book or article from a journal). All types of work are covered including sound recordings and films (subject to fair dealing). This exception cannot be overwritten by contract so you do not need to check a licence before copying.
Illustration for instruction (S.32)
This exception allows limited non-commercial fair dealing use of copyright material for the purposes of teaching. The link to instruction must be clear with the work used solely to illustrate a teaching point (and not for aesthetic purposes). Material can be displayed on interactive whiteboards or embedded in Canvas courses but you must include a sufficient acknowledgment. All types of work are covered including sound recordings and films. This exception cannot be overwritten by contract so you do not need to check a licence before copying.
The amendment has removed the examination exception from the law which permitted any copyright material apart from sheet music (for performance exams) to be copied for the purposes of setting an examination or communicating the results, when copying for examinations, and the amount of copying must now be fair.
There are uncertainties as to the scope of this exception; and to what constitutes fair dealing for images we recommend you still source copyright free images or those licensed under Creative Commons.
Criticism, review, quotation and news reporting (S.30)
This exception allows fair dealing usage of quotations for any purposes including ‘criticism and review’. It covers any type of copyright work that has been made publically available. The extent of the quotation must be no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used and the quotation is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise). This exception will make it easier to use extracts in VLEs, course materials, published articles and books etc., it cannot be overwritten by contract so you do not need to check a licence before copying.
Copying for individual disabled users (S.31)
This exception allows making accessible copies for disabled users (the previous exception only covered visual impairment). It covers any work which is not commercially available in a suitably accessible format. This exception cannot be overwritten by contract so you do not need to check a licence before copying. If you wish to prepare copies for students with disability please contact the disability service.
Recording of broadcasts (S.35)
This exception allows recording of off air broadcasts by or on behalf of educational establishments and made available off university premises within the UK over a secure network. However the exception only applies where no licensing scheme is available. ERA already licences this activity so the exception does not apply and institutions must hold an ERA licence. Content (e.g. TV programmes, radio programmes, clips etc) can be obtained via Box of Broadcasts (BOB) and embedded into presentations or Canvas courses. BoB is available via an Information Services subscription from the A-Z list of databases.
Sources of Images, Videos and Audio
The information in this document is intended only to provide general guidance on copyright matters, and cannot be relied upon as a comprehensive or official statement of the law, or of the legal obligations of individuals with respect to copyright
- Heriot-Watt University Image Library
- The Image Library has been developed by Media Services to provide University Staff access to a wide range of images.
- Creative Commons (CC) search
- Provides access to search engines from independent organisations such as Flickr, Wikimedia Commons etc. Creative Commons advise that you should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license. Information on how to attribute material offered under a creative commons licence is available at: Best practices for attribution.
- Artstor - Public Collections
- Around 1 million freely accessible images licensed under Creative Commons, including from the Science Museum Group.
- Open Music Archive
- Out of Copyright /Public Domain Music.
- Free music for non-profit filmmakers.
- Pre-licensed production music from various genres available to purchase for re-use.
- Box of Broadcasts (BoB)
- Off-air TV and radio recording service for UK higher and further education institutions. You can choose and record any broadcast programme from 60+ TV and radio channels. Programmes can be edited into clips and embedded into PowerPoint presentations and Canvas courses. Clips and programmes from BoB cannot be accessed from outside the UK. BoB is available via an Information Services subscription.
- CLA Higher Education Licence
- Photographs, illustrations, charts or diagrams where they are included in an article or an extract can be copied and included in PowerPoint presentations and Canvas courses. Academic staff can request these using the Digital Copies Service. Only designated staff may provide scanned extracts of print material, a CLA copyright notice must be attached and details reported annually to the CLA.
- Library Materials
- Books, journals and other publications provided by the Library can be embedded into Canvas to direct students to key learning materials. Detailed information on embedding library materials into Canvas courses is available.
- Not every print book is available to purchase by the Library as an electronic book, however where available they will be purchased in preference to the print copy. Reading lists are requested prior to each semester and requests for books can be made at any time using the book request form. eBooks are available from the Discovery service and the link to the eBook can be made available in Canvas courses. To check if a print item is available as an eBook contact the Resources Department.
- The library’s policy is to purchase eJournals in preference to print. Links to the journal or journal article can be embedded into Canvas courses. Downloading the PDF of a journal article is not permitted by the licence conditions of the publishers or providers of electronic materials to which the Library subscribes, to direct students to the full text use the persistent/stable URL. Information on linking to journals and journal articles is available.
- Extracts of print material (e.g. book chapters and journal articles)
- The CLA Higher Education Licence permits scanned extracts of print material to be made available via Canvas courses, up to 10% or one chapter of a book OR up to 10% or one article from a journal issue (whichever is greater can be made available). Academic staff can request these using the Digital Copies Service. Only designated staff may provide scanned extracts of print material, a copyright notice must be attached and details reported annually to the CLA. Includes material outwith the library collection.