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.