‘Keeping it fair and honest’: how copyright exceptions can support your thesis, publications and teaching.
By Christina Daouti, on 22 February 2024
Fair Dealing Week (26 February to 1 March 2024) is an annual opportunity to highlight copyright exceptions and how you may rely on them when using copyright materials in your studies, research and teaching. Although the main focus of the week is on ‘fair use’ in the US – quite different from ‘fair dealing’ – in previous years events were organised across countries with similar provisions, including the UK.
This year we will be marking fair dealing with a series of blog posts that discuss three copyright exceptions in UK copyright law that are subject to what we call ‘fair dealing’. We are also running a Q and A session on Monday the 26th of February at 2 pm at the UCL Institute of Education.
When using materials created by others (text, images, video etc) you normally need permission or a licence from the copyright owner. There are, however, other options to consider. In some cases, materials are in the public domain, either because copyright has expired or because the copyright owner has waived the copyright – as is the case in the square puzzle image used here. In other cases, materials are in copyright but are available under an open licence, allowing reuse under certain terms. Examples include open access articles, images available under a Creative Commons licence, and open source software.
In specific cases, you may also be able to use materials without permission by relying on ‘permitted acts’ (also known as copyright exceptions) which are defined in UK copyright law. Some of these exceptions are subject to ‘fair dealing’, which essentially means treating the materials in a ‘fair-minded and honest’ way. It is essential to understand how you can rely on copyright exceptions as this will help you use materials in a more flexible way. To help you test your knowledge, we have put together a 7-question quiz on copyright exceptions.
Whether you are already a pro at fair dealing exceptions or would like to know more, look out for more copyright posts next week. We also hope you can join the Q and A on Monday!
By Christina Daouti, on 29 January 2024
Guest post by Veronica Parisi, Training and Clinical Support team, Cruciform Hub, UCL.
As the debate on the use of AI is becoming more and more widespread, a new blog by Veronica Parisi (UCL) and Anthea Sutton (University of Sheffield) offers some reflections from a two-day seminar centred on the use of AI, with a focus on ChatGPT, for the development of systematic literature reviews. If you, like us, feel new to the topic or are just curious, please head to our post and have a read. We hope you enjoy it and find it informative.
While the post specifically addresses using AI in systematic reviews, broader questions emerge related to ownership/co-authorship, ethical considerations and transparency in the use of AI tools. Copyright is central in these discussions. Future posts here will address copyright as it relates to AI in more detail.
By Christina Daouti, on 11 January 2024
This year is already an interesting one in terms of copyright. As with every year, new creative works (e.g. books, plays, music and paintings) entered the public domain on the 1st of January: copyright protection for these works has expired.
Well-known works that entered the public domain in the UK on the 1st of January include the works of Dylan Thomas, the plays of Eugene O’Neill, the paintings of Raoul Dufy and songs by Hank Williams. A full list of public domain works by country can be found on Wikipedia.
What you need to know about copyright duration and the public domain.
- A work can be in the public domain in one country but still protected in other countries. The works of Auden, Tolkien and Picasso are still in copyright in the EU, but have now entered the public domain in most countries in Africa and Asia and in New Zealand. How long copyright lasts and which criteria determine this, varies across countries. Different criteria come into play, including the type of work (e.g. if it is a book, a film or a recording), who created the work, whether the work was published, and the date the work was created. It matters in which jurisdiction the work is being used, as copyright legislation where the work is being used applies. In the UK, copyright for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. Complex rules apply for some works that were unpublished before 1989, meaning that some very old works are still in copyright until 31st December 2039.
- Copyright may have expired for some works, but other rights such as trademarks may still apply. This is the case with the original Mickey Mouse character who just entered the public domain in the US.
- Copyright may have expired for an early version of a work (again, think of the original Mickey Mouse character as drawn in 1928) but later versions of the same character, or translations/adaptations of a literary or artistic work, may still be protected.
Images of artistic works in the public domain. If a painting is in the public domain, is a reproduction of the painting (e.g. a digital photo) a copyright work in its own right? Many museums appear to think so: digitised copies of old paintings they hold are often marked as the museum’s copyright and licensed to users for a fee. Despite these works being in the public domain, users – including researchers who wish to include the images in their own works – often need to pay high fees to access and reuse high resolution images of the artworks. Yet, for a work to enjoy copyright protection, it must be deemed ‘original’ in the sense that it is ‘the author’s own intellectual creation’. Criteria used to assess originality are determined and applied differently across countries. There is a need for harmonised criteria and guidelines (see Wallace and Euler, 2020 and Wallace, 2023, for an extensive discussion and position on this issue). A case recently ruled in the UK (THJ v Sheridan, 2023) addressing a copyright dispute over graphic interfaces, has helped raise the originality thershold, clarifying that more than technical skill and labour is necessary to deem a reproduction an original work.
Is this the dawn of a new era? Although legal precedents have pointed in this direction for years, there is hope that cultural heritage organisations will be guided by this latest ruling to review their practices and stop licensing works that are out of copyright (see recent article by Bendor Grosvernor).
New year’s resolutions. There seems to be scope for many cultural heritage organisations to make a new year’s resolution to open up their collections as much as possible. In the meantime, there is one thing you can add to your own list of resolutions: learn more or refresh your knowledge on copyright. Here are some ideas:
- Spend 30 minutes of your time to complete Copyright Essentials, an online tutorial introducing copyright, permissions, fair dealing and open materials.
- Register to attend a training session – introductions to copyright for staff and PGRs and specialised training on publishing agreements and open licences. If you prefer, contact us to discuss a bespoke session for your department.
- Visit the UCL copyright website.
- Use our support service. For specific questions, e-mail email@example.com or schedule an appointment on Teams or in person.
By Christina Daouti, on 8 December 2023
Copyright applies to various creative works: books, articles, teaching resources, blogs, websites, datasets, software, photos, images, music, film, recordings, plays…To use (e.g., copy, include in your own work, adapt, share, post on the web) a substantial part of a copyright work, you normally need permission from the rights holder.
As Christmas is traditionally a season of generosity, some might hope that copyright laws and regulations would be suspended during the festive period (you never know; stranger things have happened). Alas, this is not the case: the Christmas spirit does not extend to copyright. This means that your beloved Christmas songs, stories, images and films are still protected, unless they are old enough to have entered the public domain.
To stay within the law – and on Father Christmas’s ‘nice’ list – this year, be aware of the following:
- Books, articles, poems, letters to Father Christmas, messages on Christmas cards: all these may qualify as ‘literary works’ and are, by default, protected by copyright, whether they are in hard or digital form, published or unpublished. This means that if a friend has drafted a beautiful season’s greeting message, copying it without permission would be copyright infringement, even if you acknowledged them as the author.
- You can eat, drink and be merry without fear of infringing copyright. As indicated in the well-known cheese case, the taste of a food may not be protected: two brands of mince pie or two roast turkeys may taste the same without a chef having infringed the other’s copyright. However, copyright protection could, in some cases, apply to the wording of the recipes themselves.
- Christmas music may be protected unless copyright has expired. For instance, you would need permission or a licence to play a song in public or share a recording with others. Music copyright is complex, as different rights may apply the composition score, the lyrics and the recording of the performance. For example, you should be able to record your own version of Silent Night, as copyright has expired for this song; but you cannot use a recording that is still in copyright. Likewise, while you can enjoy a cosy night in watching your favourite Christmas film with friends, a public showing of the film would normally require a licence.
- Photos, drawings and other images are, by default, protected as artistic works. Even if they are available to download on the internet, they may not be free to reuse unless accompanied by a licence permitting reuse. Designs on Christmas jumpers, cards, crackers and gift wrap may be subject to both design rights and copyright.
5. The law also protects the moral rights of creators, including the right to be recognised as the author of a work and the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work. For example, in 1982 the artist Michael Snow successfully sued the Toronto Eaton Centre for derogatory treatment of his sculpture Flightstop, which included sixty Canada geese in flight. In the spirit of Christmas, the centre had decorated the necks of the geese with red ribbons. The judge found that doing so violated the moral rights of the artist (not the geese!) as it compromised the integrity of the work.
Understanding how copyright applies to others’ works should not stop you from being creative, whether this is about dressing up your goose, writing a Christmas song or doing research. For example, you may still be able to use copyright materials without permission if you rely on a copyright exception such as quotation, criticism and review or parody and pastiche. Several copyright exceptions can be used if the use is ‘fair dealing’. This is a matter of judgement that has perhaps more nuance than a ‘naughty-or-nice’ list.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
By Christina Daouti, on 9 November 2023
Are you settling well into November? We hope you have the chance to take part in WriteFest (also known as Academic Writing Month), an annual opportunity to set writing goals, protect your time to write, adopt some good writing practices and overcome writing blocks, while sharing your writing experiences with others. UCL Researcher Experience lists some great training opportunities and writing retreats suitable for UCL staff and research students.
This post is about good practices addressing what happens after you have completed your writing.
Whether you are writing a thesis, presentation, journal article, book chapter or a whole monograph, you will most likely want to reuse your work in ways that matter to you: for example, share it with others, post it online, reuse it in your teaching and in public engagement activities. You will also want to be able to decide how others may reuse your work. These decisions are important to you as an author, but it’s worth remembering that your research funders (including UKRI, the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission) also have open access requirements that determine how your work will be published and shared.
To be able to share your work as openly as possible, you may want to:
- Keep rights that will allow you to reuse your own work. This can be achieved in different ways, from publishing open access to including a rights retention statement when you submit an article. The first step is to become more aware of what a copyright transfer agreement means and how it may be stop you from reusing your work openly. To learn more about this, please see our Copyright and your research publications page or drop us an email at email@example.com.
- Choose a licence that helps you determine how others may reuse your work. Creative Commons attribution licences are designed to help authors determine how a work may be reused. All licences allow copying and sharing the work, as long as the author is attributed. Different types of licences have different restrictions (e.g. around allowing adaptations of the work). For more information, see our recent guest post on the Open Science blog.
- Plan how you can include materials created by others in your work, particularly if you are making your work open access. If, for example, your article, thesis or book includes images or any other content created by others, you will need to consider whether and how you can include it – usually permission or a licence is required for inclusion in open access works, but it’s also helpful to be aware of what you can do by relying on copyright exceptions.
All of the above are part of good habits in academic writing. They help remove barriers to publishing, protect your author rights and support open dissemination of your work. The copyright team can support you in different ways:
- Our training sessions include copyright for postgraduate students, copyright for research staff, an introduction to open licences and a more specialised session on publishing agreements. There is still time to register for November/December sessions, and dates for term 2 will be advertised soon. If the dates don’t suit you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a bespoke session.
- If you have a specific question, including the terms and conditions of your publishing agreement, you can book an appointment to discuss. Appointments are available both online and in person.
- UKRI and JISC have published two very useful guides. Managing third-party copyright for research publications (UKRI, Clare Painter Associates) provides invaluable advice for authors who publish open access monographs and book chapters. Publishing under the UKRI open access policy: copyright and Creative Commons licences includes guidance that is useful for anyone, whether they are currently funded by UKRI or not. Our upcoming sessions discuss this guidance in more detail.
By Christina Daouti, on 18 October 2023
Working collaboratively with colleagues in LCCOS and the wider Egyptology community has enabled us to make ‘Wepwawet: Research Papers in Egyptology’ available as open access through UCL Discovery, UCL’s open access repository.
Each year, thousands of academic journals publish innovative and exciting research. Some of these journals endure for decades; others rapidly become obsolete. They languish on library shelves, their contents forgotten. The journal ‘Wepwawet: Research Papers in Egyptology’ (volumes 1-3, 1985-1987), produced and edited by PhD students from the former UCL Department of Egyptology, was one of these publications.
In summer 2023, I came across ‘Wepwawet’ on our library shelves. I’ve been working to digitise the Institute of Archaeology’s historical journals, raising funds to make the ‘Annual Report’ and ‘Bulletin’ available as open access. Wepwawet looked like another good candidate. Volumes were short, highlighted UCL’s long history of contributions to Egyptology (the study of Ancient Egypt) and contained research that is valuable to Egyptology scholars around the world.
My first step was to find a copy of the missing second volume. Contacts in the wider Egyptology community helped me out: I borrowed and scanned the missing volume from the British Museum Library. With advice from Christine Daouti, UCL’s Copyright Support Officer, I then approached the former editors of the journal, Mark Collier, and Mariam Kamish, who shared the copyright with UCL. Both Mark and Mariam were supportive of the project and immediately gave permission to digitise. With their agreement, the scanned contents of the journal were added to UCL Discovery the same day and are now available online with a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY).
The outcome: from the shelf to the world
The project to digitise ‘Wepwawet’ demonstrates how co-operative, pro-active initiatives within communities of practice can breathe new life into forgotten journals, and can be quick, easy, and low cost, but with high returns.
Making a digital copy of the journal open access supports its preservation, makes it discoverable and ensures that scholars – including native Egyptian scholars seeking to interpret their own past – can access, read and cite this research. A Creative Commons licence (CC BY) makes it possible for others to share and build upon this work, while attributing the original creators.
Thanks to all involved!
To learn more about Creative Commons licences, drop-in any time between 12 and 2 pm on Teams on Tuesday 24 October.
By Christina Daouti, on 9 October 2023
We hope you are settling well into the new academic year.
The copyright mailbox is always buzzing at the start of term. As ever, the questions we receive are varied and often fascinating. From using copies of old paintings in exhibitions to playing computer games in neuroscience experiements to tracing rights owners for films, and from negotating publishing agreements to licensing research data to establishing good practice in collaborative projects, the questions we address reflect the diverse research, teaching and creative activities that take place at UCL. More often than not, simple queries open up broader discussions. What is the place of copyright in the creative process? What aspects of copyright can be used to open up knowledge? Where does copyright sit in the broader context of research integrity?
Copyright – the exclusive right to copy, share and reuse a creative work -is a large part of pretty much every UCL activity. Books and articles, dissertations and presentation slides, teaching resources and websites, social media posts and computer programmes, images, film, photos and datasets may all be protected by copyright. Understanding what this means both when you use others’ works and creating your own can help you make decisions that benefit your research, your learning and your teaching.
We are starting the year with quite a few new copyright resources, suitable for those new to copyright and those who would like more specific advice.
- Complete a 2-minute questionnaire to rate your copyright confidence and tell the UCL copyright support service what resources you need.
- Complete an introductory 20-minute tutorial at your own pace, online. An opportunity to learn – or revisit – the basics, including works covered by copyright, permissions, ‘fair dealing’ and licences.
- Join us for a training session, online or face-to-face. Current sessions run for postgrdauate students, researchers and teaching staff. There are also sessions on specific topics (open licences, publishing agreements). If you are not able to make a session or would like advice on a different topic, please contact us to arrange one for your department or research group.
- Visit the UCL copyright website for guidance on various copyright-related topics. New pages include copyright for your research publications, copyright for research data and software and guidance on the use of images.
- If you teach, this micro-CPD on UCL Arena offers some tips on encouraging good practice among your students.
- If you have a specific question, please email email@example.com.
- You can also book an appointment (online or face-to-face) via the copyright booking service.
- Subscribe to this blog for updates and topical discussions, including ones on copyright for AI-generated works.
By Christina Daouti, on 13 September 2023
The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence for photocopying, scanning and digital re-use is a bit of a mouthful. It is also one of the main means to stay within the law when re-using copyright-protected materials, particularly in teaching.
A CLA poster is displayed next to MFDs at every UCL library site and in departments. This is expected by the CLA and helps you know what you are allowed to do under the terms of the licence. Below are six main points about the licence.
- The CLA is a not-for-profit company that distributes its revenue to authors, publishers and visual artists via royalty-collecting organisations.
- Like many other Universities, UCL pays an annual subscription to the CLA. The library also takes part in consultations that inform negotiations with the agency, to ensure that the licence meets the needs of the academic community.
- Works covered by the licence mainly include books and journal publications published in the UK. Many overseas publications are also included. Not everything is covered: which countries and publications are covered and what is allowed in every case varie; particularly when it comes to scanning. For a work to be covered, UCL must own a copy or subscribe to the publication.
- There are limits to how much can be copied. Currently these are: up to one chapter from a book, one whole article from a journal issue or 10% of the book or journal issue; whichever is the greatest. The CLA guidance on the poster specifies limits for other types of materials.
- Any member of staff or student at UCL can copy under the terms of the licence. However, for copies made for students on a particular course, there are additional storage and reporting requirements: designated members of staff do the scanning and ensure the requirements are met. If you want to use a resource in your course readings, you are advised to add it to your reading list, specifying which extracts you wish to digitise. The TLS team checks what is permitted and, where possible, digitises the resource under the terms of the licence. More information can be found on the Course Readings webpage.
- You have other options, too.
There is a growing number of resources that do not require digitisation. A wide range of electronic resources is available to UCL staff and students, including journal articles and e-books – lecturers can provide links to their students. You can also benefit from exceptions in copyright law, which allow you to copy and share reasonable extracts from materials, without the need for permission, as long as the use is ‘fair dealing‘.
And, of course, there is the ever-growing body of open access resources, including those held in UCL Discovery or published by UCL Press. If a resource is licensed under a Creative Commons licence it can be used without permission, as long as the terms of the licence are met.
Copyright updates, July 2023: tackling copyright anxiety, “giving voice to authors”, and new UCL copyright resources
By Christina Daouti, on 28 July 2023
Copyright anxiety study seeks to help address ‘copyright chill’
The recently launched Copyright Anxiety Study is a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, City, University of London and the University of Alberta.
The study seeks to gauge copyright anxiety levels among higher education staff in the UK and Canada, with a view to recommend solutions to alleviate this anxiety.
This is an important study, with the potential to help professionals in various higher education roles (library, teaching and research) deal with copyright more confidently.
“Copyright anxiety is not without important consequences. Because many people are unsure what is and what isn’t legal online under copyright, they self-censor, and choose not to post or create things for fear it might land them in serious legal trouble. Ironically, increasingly strong copyright is casting a “chill” that discourages, rather than encourages, creativity. Given the billions of people who are now online, the scale of that creative loss is likely to be massive”. Glyn Moody, Walled Culture website
The survey is open until 18 August 2023. Please complete the survey and share further with colleagues if possible.
New project by Authors Alliance and KnowledgeRights21 empowers authors who write for the public benefit.
Authors Alliance and KnowledgeRights21 have launched a new project, ‘Giving Voice to Authors‘, to support European authors (primarily academics but also journalists and authors of fiction and non-fiction), who want their works to be widely accessible and discoverable.
Authors Alliance has members from all over the world. Its main objective is to promote the rights of authors who support open and equitable access to knowledge and ensure they have a voice in current policy debates. Knowledge Rights 21 (KR21) is a 3-year programme that advocates long-term copyright reform for the benefit of library users and researchers.
Authors Alliance welcomes any authors who want to add their voices to these debates. You can join for free at www.authorsalliance.org/join.
AA website: https://www.authorsalliance.org/2023/07/20/authors-alliance-in-europe-giving-voice-to-authors/
KR21 website: https://www.knowledgerights21.org/news-story/knowledgerights21-to-work-with-authors-alliance-to-raise-the-voice-of-authors-who-care-about-the-public-interest/
New UCL copyright resources: microCPD video and new website guidance on copyright to research data, code and publications
The LCCOS copyright team has developed a micro-CPD encouraging lecturers to embed copyright knowledge in their teaching.
Increasing students’ understanding of copyright gives them research and information skills that will help them beyond University, supports their creativity and helps teaching staff protect the integrity of their own materials.
The 90-sec video is part of the UCL Arena series, aiming to promote best practice for teaching staff in a concise format.
Please also see our two new pages on
Copyright and your research publications, including information on ownership, publishing agreements and your rights as authors
Copyright for research data and software, including guidance on ownership and licensing.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Christina Daouti, on 24 February 2023
Our previous post opened Fair Dealing Week (20-24 February 2023) with a general overview of what ‘fair’ means in the context of ‘fair dealing’. We close the week with a post on three copyright exceptions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) that are most relevant to studying, teaching and research. You can rely on these exceptions to copy and use materials without permission, as long as your use is ‘fair’.
Three key copyright exceptions
Image credits: 1. Image by tulyawat01 on Freepik 2. Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik; 3. Copyright UCL Creative Media Services
Research and private study. You may be able to copy (e.g. photocopy, download, scan) limited extracts from books, journal issues and other documents; or images related to your study; for non-commercial purposes (section 29, CDPA).
Quotation. You may include in your work extracts from books, journal articles and other works already made available to the public, if the purpose and the context justify it. You should only use as much as you need for your purpose (section 30, CDPA). Including whole works may be justified, but some caution is advised when including images.
Illustration for instruction. You may rely on this exception to include text, images, film and music in your lectures (e.g. slides, recordings), in exam papers and, if you are a student, in coursework, theses submitted for examination and class presentations. The use must be non-commercial (section 32, CDPA).
How do you apply ‘fair dealing’ to these exceptions?
We discussed ‘fair dealing’ in our previous post. If you decide to on an exception, the following acronym may help you remember what to consider:
Credit where credit is due
Damaging the (commercial and other) interests of copyright holder? Don’t use!
As ‘fair dealing’ is a matter of intepretation and risk assessment, you may also want to contact the UCL copyright team for advice, or refer to our resources.
UCL copyright resources