Library Services


Copyright and Teaching-Online FAQs

Copyright issues in online teaching and learning: new guidance for the 2020-2021 academic year.

How can I use figures from published papers in my online teaching material in Moodle?
  • If the source article is covered by a Creative Commons licence which also covers the figures then you will be able to use the figures without permission. It is important to check that you are complying with the terms of the specific Creative Commons licence
  • There are copyright exceptions defined in the UK legislation which specify circumstances where it is acceptable to reuse other people’s material without seeking permission. In other words, copyright is not infringed if those circumstances apply.
  • The exception for “illustration for instruction” is very useful in Higher Education. It can be found in Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  It states that reusing material for non-commercial educational purposes does not infringe copyright as long as there is “sufficient acknowledgement” and it is “fair dealing.” To establish whether it is fair dealing or not you must consider whether the interests of the copyright owner are likely to be harmed. If you intend to reproduce modest extracts from a published paper, for example, it is very likely to be fair dealing, provided you cite the sources correctly.
  • If it is fair dealing to include figures, images or text in a live-streamed lecture then, in all likelihood it will also be fair dealing to include the same material in a recording of the lecture or in other learning material which can be accessed by student when they choose. Different considerations apply to showing videos and films (see separate FAQs below).
  • The use of a secure online environment, such as Moodle makes it more likely that our reuse of copyright protected material will be fair dealing. Sharing content more widely, such as in a publicly available blog or wiki should be approached with caution.
How can I search for reusable content
  • The Creative Commons search page can be very useful if you need to find images which are licensed for reuse, particularly if a more generic image would be suitable.
  • The UCL Copyright resources reading list includes lists of websites which offer free resources which are licensed for reuse, primarily sources of images and a few sites offering music. You should always check the terms and conditions attached to any images you intend to use.
How can I show film and video to my students in Moodle?
  • The Library subscribes to some useful web-based services. Each has its own terms and conditions which you must adhere to.  Kanopy is a film streaming service, which enables you to provide links to films included in the service. You can build your own playlists and record clips. It is described in more detail in this blog post.
  • BoB, supplied by Learning on Screen is a vast database of many types of broadcast material which UCL staff and students can use. It includes films which have been shown on the major TV channels. It permits embedding, playlists and recording clips. Access is usually limited to viewers based in the UK.
  • It is always preferable to use those subscription services where possible as we have a licence with clear terms and conditions to access films for teaching and learning purposes.
Can I use extracts from films not covered by Bob or Kanopy?
  • Using brief extracts from films in your teaching materials, where you have access to a lawful copy is very likely to be covered by one of the exceptions to copyright. In a teaching context the “illustration for instruction” exception will apply, provided it is fair dealing in the circumstances. The exception for “quotation” in Section 30(1ZA) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 may also apply, since it includes quotation in any medium. When relying upon either exception you need to consider how much of the original work you are reproducing – is it perhaps more than is necessary? You also need to consider whether the interests of the copyright owner could be adversely affected.
How can I show a complete film to students when the film is not on Kanopy or BoB?
  • Provided that UCL owns a copy of the film, showing the film to an audience of UCL students in a secure digital environment (such as Moodle) may be covered by the teaching exception in Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). The main concern is to fulfil the “fair dealing” requirement. The preferred approach would be to stream the film within Moodle at a specific re-arranged time. This could be repeated, for example to allow students in different time zones to view the film. You need to consider whether it is “fair dealing” in relation to the specific film.
  • A different approach, making the film available in a secure environment for students to watch on demand at a time of their choosing is possible in circumstances where streaming at a pre-arranged time is impractical. This could also be covered by the teaching exception (Section 32 CDPA). It is recommended that this should be for a maximum period of one week, in order to fulfil the fair dealing requirement.
  • A film could be made available on multiple occasions to meet specific learning needs, such as students joining the module at a later stage or exam revision.
  • Seeking and buying a licence to make a film available for a cohort of students is another option to address copyright risk but it is likely to be time-consuming and expensive in practice.
  • When showing a whole film or a large part of a film in Moodle students should be required to read a brief copyright notice before viewing the film. See the following FAQ for some wording.
  • Students should not be able to download or copy a film.
Do I need to insert a notice to inform students about copyright restrictions?
  • Certainly, this is essential to ensure that students are fully informed and to manage copyright risk for UCL.
  • Suggested wording: This film is being made available pursuant to Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It may be watched solely for educational purposes. You may not download, copy or distribute copies of the film or show it to others.
What is “sufficient acknowledgement” for a film?
  • According to Section 178 CDPA the film title, producer and directors should be credited. Although these items of information may be in the credits, it is good practice to include a separate notice when the film is being shown/ made available in order to ensure compliance with the teaching exception.
Can I use videos from YouTube in my teaching?
  • Videos posted on YouTube come from many different sources and it is difficult to generalise. Providing links to web content can have copyright implications, but it is usually low risk to provide links and to embed videos using YouTube’s own tools within Moodle. It is important to be aware that some videos may be infringing in the sense that they are uploaded on YouTube without the authorisation of the copyright owner. In general, you should avoid linking to or embedding any video where there is evidence that it is infringing.
  • The main emphasis of the YouTube terms and conditions is that one should use the tools they provide rather than reusing YouTube videos in any other way. Copying complete videos from YouTube onto a UCL platform is therefore problematic. On the other hand, YouTube is not available to students based in some countries. If you think that, in the circumstances, your copying of the video will be fair dealing under the teaching exception, then it is also the case that the exception cannot be overridden by contract terms, such as those of the YouTube website  (Section 32(3), Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). There may be some circumstances where copying the video onto a UCL platform can be justified under the Section 32 exception.
  • Some YouTube videos are covered by a Creative Commons licence or equivalent. In that case one could copy the video under the terms of the CC licence without reference to the YouTube terms and conditions.
  • In other cases, contacting the copyright owner to request a separate copy of their work may be a practical option in order to address copyright risk.
Making decisions about fair dealing
  • The “fair dealing” copyright exceptions are there to be used and in the current circumstances they should be particularly helpful in teaching. It is often not possible to be 100% sure that a specific exception applies. It comes down to informed judgement, based on your view of the risk. You need to consider how the interests of the copyright owner might be affected by your reuse of the work. If you firmly believe that your use of the work will be “fair dealing” then you should feel empowered to go ahead.
  • But if in doubt, the copyright team are also available to help. We can be contacted via email: copyright@ucl.ac.uk