Home > Library home > Teaching support > Copyright advice
More in this section Teaching support

Copyright advice

The aim of this brief guide is to provide a quick reference point to some of the common copyright issues and questions relating to copyright that impact on study and research at the College.  It is not a legal document so please see the last section below for official sources of information.

The College has signed the CLA Higher Education Licence which runs from 1st August 2016 to 31st July 2019. This covers copyright information for staff and students copying for their use and for staff wishing to use copies in their teaching. The Licence increased the permitted limits from 5% to 10%. The Licence can be read in full along with more information at the CLA website.

Academic staff should refer to the Digital Copies website for using copyrighted digital materials such as chapters and articles in their teaching on Moodle sites as these copies need to be provided via the Digital Copies Service provided by the Library.

The College takes its responsibilities under copyright law very seriously. It is essential that all College staff and students are familiar and comply with the restrictions and obligations outlined below and seek advice when unsure. 

Updated August 2016.

What is copyright?

Copyright is part of a wider set of intellectual property (IP) rights that offer protection and certain exclusive rights to the owner(s) of the rights in a work.   Other IP rights include:

  • Patents - for inventions
  • Trade Marks – for brand identity
  • Designs – for product appearance
  • Copyright - for material (see below)

In the UK the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) defines copyright as:

"…a property right which subsists in accordance with this Part in the following descriptions of work -
(a) original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,
(b) sound recordings, films, or broadcasts, and
(c) the typographical arrangement of published editions."

Examples of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works include books, plays, songs and photographs.

There are three tests that can be applied to any work to determine if it is subject to copyright. These include:

  1. It must be original
  2. It must be fixed (important in electronic environment) (i.e. exist in a material form - whether that is on paper, electronically or otherwise)
  3. The author of the work must be a qualified national (broadly either from a country that recognises copyright law or resident in such a country) or where the work has been published, the country of first publication must qualify (broadly that it recognises copyright law).

All students and staff need to be aware of copyright issues if they intend to:

  • photocopy, scan or digitise material
  • quote/extract from someone else's work in essays, projects and theses
  • put together photocopied chapters and articles to give to students
  • use audio or video material in teaching, presentations or course work
  • save or print material from electronic resources

The legal position is set out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and subsequent Statutory Instruments.

What is protected by copyright?

Anything which is printed, written, made or recorded in any form (e.g. academic publications or computer software; plus audio-visual material in any medium) is subject to copyright. This may include books, plays, photographs and songs etc.

Rights of the copyright owner 

Copyright gives the copyright owner the exclusive right:

  • to copy the work
  • to issue copies of the work to the public
  • to perform, show or play the work to the public
  • to broadcast the work
  • to make an adaptation of the work

Who owns copyright?

For literary (including all written material), dramatic, musical or artistic works:

  • usually the author or creator (or employer if the work was done in the course of employment, unless a contract specifies otherwise) but can be assigned to another party: in many cases the author of a published journal article does not hold the copyright but has assigned it to the publisher
  • or willed on at the author/creator's death as part of their property.

How long does copyright last? 

Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works:

  • Until 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author/creator dies.   For example: Author died on 5th January 1902.  Copyright expires on 31st December 1972.

Typographic copyright in the printed page:

  • for 25 years from publication in that edition, so a recent edition of a long-dead author cannot be freely copied

 Sound recordings:

  • are protected by copyright for 70 years after they are published or performed

Photographs, official publications, and unpublished works have different rules.

What can be legally copied?

Reproduction of copyright material is permitted in certain circumstances:

Fair Dealing

The 2014 Copyright and Rights in Performances (Research, Education, Libraries and Archives) Regulations stipulates under ‘Fair Dealing’ that:

  • Copying for “Research, private study and text data analysis for non-commercial research": an individual can make a personal copy of a part of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of “non-commercial research or private study".
  • By permission: the rights-owner can give permission, with or without a fee, for reproduction of any work to which they hold the rights
  • Copying an "Insubstantial" part of a work: this is allowed under the law, however the law does not stipulate what may or may not be considered a ‘non substantial part’, therefore any portion of copying might be considered a substantial part of the whole work depending on its length.  Short extracts of a work may be copied for the purposes of criticism or review if sufficiently acknowledged.

Copying for educational purposes

For the educational use, the College purchases annually the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Photocopying Licence. This  allows a single copy from paper to paper of most UK publications, specifically for the purposes of giving or receiving instruction:

  • One whole chapter from a book
  • One whole article from a journal issue
  • One short story, poem or play (not exceeding 10 pages in length) from an anthology
  • One whole scene from a play
  • One whole paper from a set of conference proceedings
  • One whole report of a single case from a volume of judicial proceedings
  • OR 10% of any of the above whichever is greater
  • Where a digital publication is not organised in a similar way to conventional printed items, you are advised to exercise your best judgement to copy reasonable extracts.

Please note that the CLA Higher Education licence which runs from 1st August 2016 to 31st July 2019 increased the permitted limits from 5% to 10%.

Multiple copies
  • The Licence allows multiple copies of an item for education purposes providing the maximum amount does not exceed one copy per student on a course of study plus one copy for the tutor(s)
  • The copies must be made by the person giving the instruction and from paper to paper copying only.
  • The copy must be made from an original copy of the book or journal (owned by the College, or a lecturer’s own copy) OR from a Copyright-Fee Paid photocopy obtained from the British Library
If copies / scans are required for use on Moodle, please contact  digitalcopies@royalholloway.ac.uk as there are specific CLA Licence requirements to meet in order to do this.

What the Royal Holloway license does not cover?

The Licence does not permit the copying of printed music, maps and charts, theses, bibles and prayer books, or separate illustrations, or photographs, or works published in countries that do not participate in the license. To find out which material is covered email digitalcopies@royalholloway.ac.uk.

Other licenses held by the College

The College holds a number of other licences which regulate copying of works. These include:

The Educational Recording Agency Licence: This licence covers off-air recording of TV and radio broadcasts.

The CLA Higher Education Digitisation Licence: This licence covers the scanning of publications for classroom use.

The Newspaper Licensing Agency Licence: This licence covers the reproduction of newspaper articles from both national and some regional titles.

Accessible copies for users with disabilities

A copy of a whole work can be made in a more accessible format (i.e. enlarging the image on a photocopier) for personal use provided that:

  • One copy of the original work has been purchased personally or the College
  • The work must not be available commercially in the format needed
  • The copy cannot then be added to the Library Short Loan Collection
  • If it is a musical work, transfer to an alternative format must not involve recording a performance of the work
  • The copy must be marked to show it was made under this legislation.

Help with making photocopies for  students with disabilities

If help is required to make a copy of a work into a more accessible format, please speak to a member of the Library staff or email library@royalholloway.ac.uk.  There will normally be a charge for copying under the standard rate for photocopying.  For more information on services provided by the Library to students with disabilities, please see the Library website.

Copyright and the web 

Materials located on the internet are also subject to copyright.  Materials located on the web i.e. web page content should be treated as print material. Material that is "publically available" on the web is still  subject to copyright so the permissions and terms of use must be checked and complied with. If the web page does not give clear permissions (usually on the homepage), the permission of the copyright owner will need to be obtained.  Further information on copyright and the internet can be found on the CLA website.

Using electronic resources 

Printing from e-resources is permitted, whilst library e-resources used in Moodle must be hyperlinked, due to the nature of the Library's licenses with the suppliers. It is the responsibility of all members of the College to ensure that they do not breach these licences when using an electronic resource.   

Copying from e-journals available via the Library 

Current staff or student members of the College, may:

  • Print a copy of an e-journal article for personal use (research, teaching, private study)
  • Download a copy of an e-journal article for personal use (research, teaching, private study)
  • Send a copy of an article to another authorised user.

All electronic resources purchased by the College are subject to both user restrictions on who can use and access the texts and general copyright law.

Further information and contact information

Further information on copyright and intellectual property


Library copyright contact

Nicola Cockarill, Research Information Manager (Open Access) openaccess@royalholloway.ac.uk

Digital Copies contact 

For more information on digital copies visit the Digital Copies website or email digitalcopies@royalholloway.ac.uk

Contact us

Email library@rhul.ac.uk
Telephone 01784 443823
Visit us
Web Feedback form

Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback