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Using copyright materials in your own work and in teaching
Using copyright material in your own work

Exceptions within UK Copyright legislation permit individual to copy material that is protected by copyright in certain circumstances. Fair dealing allows individuals to make copies for their own private study or for criticism and review.

Students and their work

Students who include third party materials in their work are reminded of the importance of proper citation and avoiding plagiarism. Guidance on these issues can be found online:

Copying is permitted for the purpose of examination. This includes setting examination questions and also the inclusion of copyright material in works that will be assessed, e.g. a student thesis or dissertation.

However, should you be invited to or wish to publish your thesis/dissertation or any work created during your course of study this exception ceases to apply. If you do want to go ahead and include these materials in the version that is to be published then permission to re-use will need to be sought.

Staff and students that are preparing work to be published are responsible for ensuring that relevant permissions are in place to re-use any third-party material contained within the paper, e.g. images, diagrams

For more information see Information for academic authors on publication

Using materials in the classroom

Presentations (in Powerpoint or similar), lecture notes, handouts that you create to support your teaching are all owned by you. Therefore copyright of these materials resides with you and you are free to distribute them as you wish. For more information regarding the ownership of any teaching materials that you create see: Information about your own copyright

When delivering your powerpoint or similar in class certain exemptions cover the inclusion of the third party materials. Similarly students can share materials for educational purposes in the classrooom. However, if any of the above contain material from other sources – images or diagrams, extracts of text, film clips – there are some things to consider before the material can be redistributed, say via a Moodle module. For more on this see Using material to support online learning.

Distributing photocopies of printed sources

UCL holds a Copyright Licensing Agency Licence which allows the reproduction (by photocopy) of published works to support students on a course of study. What this means is that it is permitted to provide each member of a class with a photocopy of an article/chapter for use as part of teaching. There are some limitations to this licence regarding how much can be copied and the international coverage of the licence, please see here for more information.

Please note that this does not extend to scanning readings, UCL provides a service to create and deliver digital copies of course readings that can be integrated into your online reading list and your Moodle module. Please see here for more details.

Using AV materials in the classroom

An educational exemption exists which allows the showing of films or sound recordings in an educational establishment to an audience of teachers or pupils for the purposes of instruction without any infringement of copyright.

Films and recordings that are to be digitised and delivered online do not fall into this exemption and permission must be obtained before the material is copied. See Video or sound clips

Do I need permission?

A simple chart has been created to help assess whether you need to request permission to re-use a piece of content.

If you are still not certain then please contact copyright@ucl.ac.uk with full details of the material.

Obtaining permission

In the event that permission is required to re-use materials then this should be sought as early as possible. Copyright owners can be difficult to trace and slow to respond to requests. That said, in many cases individuals will respond granting permission quickly.

It is helpful if your initial request gives as much detail as possible regarding the reuse. The following pieces of information should be included:

  • Details of the course and expected number of students that will be taking it
  • A description of how you wish to reuse the material and why it important for your course
  • If it is to be reused in Moodle then mention that access to the material is restricted to registered students only
  • If the re-used material will be more widely available e.g. published on a web page, then this needs to be made clear.

Always maintain a paper trail of any requests sent and responses. If you do not hear from a copyright owner after making a resonable effort to obtain permission (sending at least 2 requests) and decide to go ahead and use the material please be aware that they may still object to your reuse and ask you to take it down.

If you have any queries or need further advice please contact: copyright@ucl.ac.uk

Last modified 04 July 2011

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