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 copyright 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

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 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 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 has 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 is 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:

  • Wikimedia Commons
    A repository of public domain and freely-licensed educational media content from the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Pixabay
    Public domain images - generally no attribution is required
  • Getty Museum
    Free to use images from the Getty Museum
  • Wellcome Images
    Images from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science
  • Britannia Image Quest
    Subscription service with images for non-profit educational purposes
  • Xpert
    Database of images licensed for reuse with clear attribution information

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.

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, including disembedded images. The licence contains strict conditions on coverage, quantities, copyright information for students and the reporting of scans/digital re-use. Full information on how to use the licence’s functionality can be found on the CLA licence page.

Publishers’ licences and pdfs

The terms and conditions of the licences for ejournals and e books 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 therefore 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 in to 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.