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Copyright Queries



Copyright myth #2: ‘Acknowledging a source removes the need for permission’

By Christina Daouti, on 27 February 2024

A stack of books with blue and red bookmarks inserted in them.

Image by Freepik.

On the second day of  Fair Dealing Week (26 February to 1 March 2024) we discuss a point that often comes up in copyright training sessions.

If I acknowledge the author, I don’t need to get their permission’.

Acknowledgement is essential, but permission is still necessary.

Acknowledgement of any sources used is good academic practice, besides any requirements set out in copyright legislation. Even when materials are out of copyright (public domain) you are still advised to give acknowledgement where possible.

However, this does not remove the need to have permission. When a work is protected by copyright, getting permission is necessary by default. A granted permission or licence specifies exactly how, when and where you will be using the material and often indicates how credit should be given, too (for example, by linking to an artist’s website).

Seeking permission is not necessary when a licence covering your reuse is already in place. This includes open licences, such as Creative Commons licences, which allow you to use materials under specific terms and with attribution to the author.

What about copyright exceptions?

When it comes to copyright exceptions, the three main exceptions relevant to research and teaching (non-commercial research and private study; criticism, review and quotation; illustration for instruction) expect sufficient ackmowledgement (usually including the title and author of the work) as part of dealing with the material fairly – unless this is ‘impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise’. As discussed in previous posts, ‘fair dealing’ is much more than acknowledgement. It includes a consideration of the purpose and context, amount/proportion used, and impact on the interests of the author/copyright owner.

Learn more.

To learn more about copyright

1. Complete our 7-question copyright exceptions quiz.

This is to help you understand copyright exceptions better: you can submit answers anonymously and we won’t be using your responses for any purpose.

2. Register for one of our sessions, on Teams or in person.

Our sessions cover copyright for PGRs, research staff and teaching staff; open licences; and publishing contracts.

3. Ask us a question.

Contact us to ask a question, arrange an appointment or schedule your own training session.


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