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Copyright, Licensing and GDPR: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get permission to use material that is not covered by the University's licences or by exceptions to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act?

Usually, you will need to contact the copyright owner, who may or may not be the author or creator of the work you wish to copy (for text-based materials, for example, this is often the publisher), or there may be an agent who acts as intermediary. The Library may be able to help you with this, or you may prefer to seek permission yourself.

How long does copyright last?

This depends on the type of material.  Copyright in Literary and Artistic works lasts for 70 years after the death of the author or creator, further details on other types of material is given here.  Note that in multimedia resources, multiple copyright durations can apply. 

What Copyright Licences does the University hold

Library and Learning Services on behalf of the University, subscribes to the licences below.  Each licence is subject to strict terms and conditions, and you should consult the detailed guidance before copying.

What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?

A broad definition of an OER is any type of learning or teaching material which is freely available over the World Wide Web for anyone – staff or student – to use, usually with attribution to the originator of the material. OERs may be whole courses or modules, or might include single lectures, assignments, activities or simulations, and they may include text, multimedia or images. As well as curriculum-related content, student support material may also be available as an OER. A key point is that many OERs, subject to appropriate licensing, may be adapted for re-use. The OER IPR Support website has useful wizards that will help you to select appropriate Creative Commons Licences.

What is Fair Dealing ?

Fair dealing is a legal term used to establish whether the use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright.  There is no statutory definition of fair dealing and a judgement is taken on a case by case basis.  Factors that have been identified by the courts as relevant in determining an infringement of copyright include:

  • Does the use affect the market for the original work? If a use of a work acts a substitute for it, causing the owner to lose revenue, then it is not likely to be fair;

  • Is the amount taken reasonable and appropriate? Was the amount used necessary?Usually only a part of a work may be used.

The actual amounts you can copy under fair dealing have never been defined in law, but the following can be used as guidance:

  • “A chapter or 5% of a book, whichever is greater”

  • “One complete article from a single issue of a journal part”

  • “A maximum of 10 pages of a poem, short story, or other short literary work, taken from a volume of short stories or poems”

  • “Up to 10% (maximum 20 pages) of a pamphlet or report”

You may also copy from any type of work for the purposes of criticism or review (e.g. a thesis) provided that you acknowledge the source.  The Act does not define extent limits of copying but the general rules are:

  • “In the case of one extract, no more than 400 words”

  • “In the case of several extracts from a single work, that none of them is more than 300 words long, and that the total is no more than 800 words”

  • “In the case of a poem, up to 40 lines”

The above principles apply to both print and electronic content.

How much can I copy to use as a quotation?

Section 30 Criticism, Review and Quotation” of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, states that the use of quotation must be fair, so not to impinge on the copyright owner’s rights of exploitation.  The extent of the quotation must not be more than that is needed for the specific purpose for which it is used.  Some publishers have placed a word limit on the extent of a quotation, so do please check the publisher’ site before you use the content.

For more information, see s.30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act

My powerpoint presentation contains photographs and images that I have downloaded from the web; can I share them with colleagues outside DMU?

This would not be advisable, unless you have permission from the copyright owner. It would be better in this instance to direct colleagues to the image on the web.  More information on find images for re-use is available from How to find online images and music for re-use.

Can I use copyright-protected materials in my learning, teaching and assessment practice?

Yes, provided that the material you wish to use is covered by one of the copyright licences we hold. These will cover much of what you wish to do in terms of providing multiple copies from books and newspapers; playing of films and off-air recordings in class; digitising printed materials for inclusion in your DMU Resource List; or including images in your Powerpoint presentation. Each licence is subject to strict terms and conditions. Whenever you use third-party copyright material, you must make sure it is properly acknowledged. 

As a student, what do I need to know about copyright (and why)?

Almost all the learning resources that you use as a student – books, periodicals, videos, software, etc. – will be covered by copyright, which mean that you cannot copy it unless you have permission from the copyright owner or it falls within the limits allowed for “fair dealing”. The University has a responsibility to ensure that its students are fully aware of the principles of the law. Students are responsible for making sure they do not break the law. It is also important that, as a student, you understand and develop good academic practice. Obeying copyright law and licences will also help you from falling into the trap of plagiarism, which is a disciplinary offence at the University. See the section on Copyright for students for a summary of the main things of which you need to be aware.