Copying for Teaching

Exceptions in the CDPA and licences purchased by or available to the University enable you legally to copy limited amounts of material for use in lectures and on Moodle

Copying material under exceptions in the CDPA

Illustration for instruction

A major exception (s. 32) to the general prohibition on copying substantial amounts of a copyrighted work benefits people in education. It permits fair dealing with a work for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction, provided it is:

  • for a non-commercial purpose
  • by a person preparing for or giving or receiving instruction (including setting and answering examination questions)
  • accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement (author’s name and title of work), except where impractical

There is no precise definition of what dealing would be fair, but important considerations would be (i) the proportion of the original that is copied, ie, not more than is absolutely necessary, (ii) the audience which would have access to the material, ie more likely to be fair when placed on the VLE and not freely available on the Internet, and (iii) whether the copying competes with the rights owners economic exploitation of their work.

Non-commercial research is that which is not for direct or indirect economic advantage. Commercial research would probably include, for example, research for the production of commercial training materials; research for paying clients; research for a book for which payment will be received

An illustration is also not defined but is likely to be interpreted to mean a copy can be used to illustrate or reinforce a point, but not for decorative purposes.

So, providing the copying meets these criteria, it would be permissible to copy the text for inclusion in a Powerpoint presentation for use in a lecture on Moodle. The use of images is less straightforward; it may be more difficult to argue that dealing is fair when high-resolution images are used, but this ultimately a matter of judgement – see below for more information on reusing images.


A further exemption in the CDPA (s. 30) permits fair dealing with a quotation from a work that has been made available to the public, provided that the extent of the quotation is no more than necessary for the specific purpose for which it is used and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.

Criticism and review

Another exemption in the CDPA (also s. 30) permits acknowledged fair dealing for this purpose with works that have been made available to the public. Criticism and review have been interpreted widely by the courts to cover the quality, style, thoughts, themes and social and moral implications of a work, but not, for example, the author’s general conduct. Criticism and review are not limited to non-commercial activities and may permit the use of a whole work, for example, an image or a poem.


  • Using images

    Images found on the internet are protected by copyright in the normal way, so you should not copy and republish them without the permission of the rights holders. It may be permissible to copy images for use in lectures etc under the exception for illustration for instruction, but using freely licensed images requires no judgement on fair dealing. There are many sources of images which may be reused. You can search on Google Images using the advanced search option and select the appropriate usage rights (“Free to use or share” or “Free to use or share or modify”) - use the help function to find more information about usage rights and Google Images. The licensing conditions will be specific about how you may use individual images, which will normally include some form of attribution.

    Other sites with reusable images include:

    A repository of public domain and freely-licensed educational media content from the Wikimedia Foundation

    Public domain images - generally no attribution is required

    Free to use images from the Getty Museum

    Images from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science

    Database of images licensed for reuse with clear attribution information

    Public domain images - attribution appreciated but not required

    Public domain images - attribution appreciated but not required

  • Showing films in lectures and seminars

    You may play a film or broadcast in lectures or seminars to an audience of staff, students and others directly connected with the University for the purposes of instruction only. This covers curriculum-related materials, but not recreational or promotional activities, for example, a general film club or during open days. Any non-instructional playing of films would need to be covered by a licence from companies like Filmbank.

    This exception does not apply to online screenings. However, developing interpretations of copyright law during the Covid pandemic (Hudson, E. (2020) Copyright guidance for using films in online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, available at, indicate that it would also be acceptable to stream a video on Teams for a synchronous online showing for students, in a similar way to a live screening in a lecture, under the provisions in section 32 for fair dealing for illustration for instruction.

    The same exception would also likely permit making the film or clips available to students on Moodle under very specific conditions – see our guide for details.

  • Copying under the terms of the CLA licence

    The University has a licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency(CLA) to enable staff to create photocopied and digital course packs or make digital readings available on Moodle.

    There are some important conditions that must be observed by staff when scanning or re-using digital originals to create digital course materials.

    Who can copy?

    All members of the academic staff in the UK may photocopy print resources. Only trained staff may scan or reuse copies from digital originals. If you need scanned material for students to access Moodle, you should use the Library's digitisation service. The licence does not cover copying for use by students on campuses outside the UK. If you need material for students studying at a partner campus, please contact the Copyright Licence Adviser.

    What can be copied?

    Copies may be made from books, journals and magazines published in the UK or one of the other countries which have exchange agreements with the UK to permit UK licensees to copy legally from foreign books, journals and magazines.

    Some categories of materials are not included:

    • printed music (including the words)
    • maps, charts
    • newspapers
    • workbooks, work cards and assignment sheets
    • any work on which the copyright owner has expressly and prominently stipulated that it may not be copied under the CLA Licence.

    Use the CLA’s Check Permissions tool to check whether a resource may be copied – the repertoire is different for photocopying, scanning and digital reuse, so be sure to click on the Show permissions button.

    For US materials, an existing digital version must be used if reasonably available, so scanning of print is not permitted when a suitable electronic version can be purchased.

    The University must own a legitimate copy of the licenced material to be copied, such as books and journals in the library or copyright fee paid copies of chapters or articles obtained from the British Library.

    How much can be copied?

    For each course of study (module):

    The greater of 10% of a work or:

    • Book – one chapter
    • Journal issue – one article
    • Conference proceedings – one paper
    • Anthology of short stories or poems – one item not exceeding ten pages

    However, textbook substitution is not permitted – copying a chapter from each of a range of textbooks all covering essentially the same material and thus building a textbook of scanned chapters.

    Whole page visual images and disembedded part page visual images may also be prepared under the licence.

    What records are needed?

    An appropriate Copyright Notice must be attached to the front of scanned items reminding users about the copyright conditions. Where it is undesirable to display the full text of the Copyright Notice, eg when including an image in a presentation, it is acceptable to use an abbreviated form of words such as 'Copied under CLA licence - please refer to the full Copyright Notice' and append the full notice elsewhere, such as at the end of the presentation. Digital copy record forms detailing all scans or digital reuse under the CLA licence must also be completed. The Library digitisation service or the trained departmental scanners manage all the record-keeping.

    The information in the forms is returned to the CLA and informs the fair distribution of licence fees to rightsholders as well as allowing the CLA to monitor scanning and usage trends.

    What can be done with the copies?

    • One photocopy may be made and distributed to each participant and teacher on a course module.
    • Digital copies must be made available via a secure, password-protected system in relation to a particular course of study. Only students and teachers on that course may download or print out digital copies.
    • Digital copies must not be made available on the publicly accessible internet.

    Any other conditions?

    Digital copies may not be stored, or systematically indexed, with the intention of creating an electronic library or similar educational learning resource. However, scanned items may be kept on a central server and backed up. Once the requirement for course delivery has passed the digital materials should be deleted from the Course Collection, unless the course is likely to be repeated in the next session (term or academic year). Before the course is taught again, the Course Collection must be checked to ensure that no scanned items are available which are not required, and that the items made available do not exceed the licence limits in respect of that course of study.

  • Publishers’ licences and PDFs

    The terms and conditions of the licences for electronic resources to which the Library subscribes (primary licences) generally include permission to make articles/extracts available on a password protected VLE such as Moodle for use by students at the University. Some publishers permit their pdfs to be loaded on to the VLE, but others only allow a link to be provided. We recommend linking to an article (except in the case of Harvard Business Publishing titles which does not permit deep linking). If you wish to place a pdf on Moodle, check the terms and conditions of the licence for major publishers in the table below first:

    ProviderUse pdf on Moodle?
    Cambridge Books Online Yes
    Cambridge University Press journals Yes
    Ebook Central Link only
    Elsevier Science direct Yes
    JSTOR Link only
    MyiLibrary Link only
    Oxford University Press journals Yes
    Project Muse journals Yes
    Taylor and Francis current journals Link only
    Wiley online journals Yes

    If the relevant publisher is not included, check the full Licence Permissions table or contact the Academic Services Team who can advise.

    The CLA's Higher Education licence also permits the copying and reuse of digital materials when the publisher has opted into this section of the licence and this may be an option if the primary licence does not grant the necessary permission. Use the Check Permissions Tool to find out whether the publisher participates in this and if you use this route, ensure you comply with the conditions of the CLA licence.

  • Broadcasts and the ERA licence

    The University holds a licence with the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) which permits the recording of most television and radio programmes for educational purposes within the University. Recordings can be made in departments or by members of staff at home. The recordings can be kept in Departments or deposited in the Library. To arrange the deposit of a recording in the library, please contact the Academic Services Team. The Box of Broadcasts streaming service offers access to off-air recordings under the terms of the ERA licence, with the ability to embed the content in Moodle.

    The main conditions of the ERA Licence are:

    • recordings must be for the non-commercial educational purposes of the University
    • recordings must not be edited or modified (though extracts may be recorded)
    • recordings must be marked with the date of the broadcast, the title of the recording, the name of the broadcaster, and the following statement:
      This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence
    • a copy may be made of a broadcast recording
    • details of any recordings made must be kept by the relevant department as this is a condition of the licence
    • recordings made under the ERA Licence may be communicated to registered students in the UK via a secure network

    The following are specifically excluded from the ERA licence:

    • Videos bought commercially
    • Most internet transmissions

    Foreign, satellite, cable and some on-demand programmes may be recorded for educational purposes without the need for record-keeping as they are not (at present) covered by any licensing agreements. Other on-demand services (eg iPlayer) are now included in the licence.