- The UCL Library Services Copyright team is currently working remotely. We are still available to assist with copyright enquiries from UCL students and staff specifically, so please do feel to contact us by emailing: Copyright@ucl.ac.uk We will be checking those emails regularly, but we will also be working non-standard hours for the time being so please bear with us if it takes a while to reply to your questions.
- We regret that you are not able to contact us by phone or to arrange face-to-face meetings, both of which would be possible for UCL students and staff under normal circumstances.
- There is also some copyright information available on the UCL website which we may find useful.
- Given the current difficulties you may be experiencing accessing academic materials we will add further posts with information about online sources which may be helpful.
Archive for the 'Copyright Queries' Category
A recent enquirer asked about producing a digital version of a book which included two contributions in English by well know Czech political figures. Both the authors had died before 1949. Given that the usual copyright term of the author’s lifetime plus 70 years would apply, it follows that the published works of both authors are out of copyright in the UK (and the EU generally), so both contributions may be digitised and made available without permission.
However, one needs to bear in mind that translations are also protected by copyright and for the same term. So that if the works had been translated into English by someone other than the author in each case, one would also need to investigate the identity and dates of the translator, in order to be certain that no additional permissions were required.
A recent enquiry concerned the use of a past thesis in a writing workshop where students of a specific course would have the opportunity to examine and also to critique the writing style of that thesis, which would be studied as a relevant example. The question was whether it would be acceptable to copy the thesis in its entirety for the purpose of the workshop.
It seems very likely that this re-use of a thesis would be “fair dealing” in terms of the education (or “illustration for instruction”) exception which can be found in Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). Naturally this would only be “fair dealing” to the extent that the copies were used strictly for the task in hand and not for any additional purpose beyond the scope of Section 32. The context also needs to be “non-commercial” so something like a fee-charging CPD course would probably not be covered.
In addition Section 32 does not specify that the work must have been “…made available to the public” as does the exception for criticism, review, quotation and news reporting (Section 30, CDPA) for example. So that question does not arise in relation to the thesis.
Copyright infringement arises from re-using someone’s work without the permission of the copyright owner (or the benefit of a licence or suitable copyright exception) and is a legal issue. On the other hand, plagiarism arises from re-using someone else’s work in a way which implies it is your own. It is essentially a matter of ethics and academic discipline rather than a legal issue, although the consequences can be very serious.
Naturally the two problems can often overlap (re-using work without a legal basis and without acknowledgement). The key to avoiding plagiarism is always to acknowledge other people’s work when you are quoting form it or when relying upon ideas developed by someone else. That way you can’t be suspected of passing it off as your own work.
The UCL Copyright team are often asked about the dangers of self-plagiarism:
“Will I be in danger of self-plagiarism if I re-use material from my thesis in a published article?” or conversely perhaps: “Can I use material from my previously journal articles in my thesis?”
Self-plagiarism is a real issue, in the sense of recycling you previous work as though it were wholly original, in a context where a certain level of originality is essential. The key to avoiding this danger is very similar to avoiding any kind of plagiarism: You need to be scrupulous about citing your own previous work where you are quoting from it or relying upon it.
In the context of your thesis there may be separate academic issues about relying too heavily on your previously published work even though you are crediting it scrupulously, so in those circumstances it would be good to discuss that with your PhD supervisor at an early stage.
Recently we were asked about quotations in a PhD thesis which was about to be submitted for posting in Discovery, UCL’s open access repository. The student had included a small number of images from published papers by other authors (third party material).
Very sensibly the student had made an initial attempt to seek permission by contacting the publisher in each case but had received no response and was concerned about what to do next. Was permission essential to include these particular images? Again, a sensible question.
Further investigation showed that one of the source articles had in fact been published under a Creative Commons licence (as it happened, the most generous “CC BY” licence). In that particular case it would be fine to reproduce the image without seeking permission but only if one fulfilled the terms of the CC licence in some reasonable manner.
In our example the student had not realised the significance of the licence so had not initially taken steps to fulfill all its terms, such as identifying the licence and linking back to the Creative Commons website. So, ironically, even though the student was licensed to reuse the image, if they had proceeded without fulfilling the terms, there was the potential for copyright infringement.
Post graduate students will typically have an impressive grasp of detail in their chosen field but not necessarily when it comes to copyright and licensing issues. This example illustrates the importance of having at least a broad awareness of copyright when you are making your work available online and including quotations from third party material. Fortunately in this case the student was wise enough to seek advice on the potential issues.
People sometimes ask about the copyright issues which might arise if one reproduces the cover of a book on social media. For example you might want to use a copy of the front cover to draw the attention of your particular academic community to a useful publication or you might just want to recommend a book to your friends. There is no doubt that the designs of recent book covers are protected by copyright and the usual rules apply.
In principle, unless you believe your usage is covered by a statutory exception, you do need the permission of the copyright owner, which will usually be the publisher (although perhaps not in every case). The book cover is arguably a complete “artistic work” in its own right, so you may be reproducing 100% of a protected work. Both reproducing it and communicating it to the public are activities restricted by copyright.
On the other hand, assuming that you are discussing the book in a positive light in your blog post, what are the chances that the publisher will really object to what you are doing? Is it not a form of free marketing for the publisher’s product? The process of seeking permission may turn out to be slow and cumbersome and the chances of the copyright owner being concerned are quite small. One could imagine a scenario in which the copyright in the cover design belonged to a free-lance artist. The publisher has paid the artist for a licence to use his work. You, on the other hand, don’t have a licence and have not paid anything to the artist, so in this scenario you could attract the copyright owner’s ire. But then, how likely is that in practice?
In the end it comes down to a decision based on your judgement about the specific book, the context in which you plan to reproduce the front cover and your appetite for risk.
A UCL researcher recently asked a series of questions about obtaining copyright permission to reproduce a published psychometric scale in the researcher’s own paper:
Q. Would the scale itself be protected by copyright?
A. Yes, if it is the original creation of the author(s) it will benefit from copyright protection, in which case permission is required to reuse it lawfully.
Q. What are the copyright implications of translating the scale into another language in order to apply it in a different cultural context?
A. Translation is a type of “adaptation” which is one of the activities restricted by copyright law – Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Section 16(1)(e)
Therefore you do need permission if you want to publish a translation of someone’s work or make it available to the public etc. Interestingly your translation will also benefit from separate copyright protection as long as it has been made with permisssion from the owner of copyright in the original work.
Q. Can I then publish my paper under a Creative Commons licence (CC licence)?
A. By all means, as long as you are happy for people to reuse your work freely under the terms of the chosen CC licence. It is impoortant to underline that you cannot licence the reuse of someone else’s work without their permission. Therefore you must include separate copyright information on any quotations of other people’s work, along with the usual acknowledgements of author and source, to make it clear that it is not covered by the CC licence you are applying to your own work. This would also apply to the psychometric scale. It is important to note that having made your work available under a Creative Commons licence you cannot change your mind and withdraw the licence from people who are already making use of it.
I was reminded recently about an exception tucked away in the Copyright Act 1956 Section 7 which permits the making of a copy of an unpublished literary, dramatic or musical work “…with a view to publication”.You could be forgiven for supposing the 1956 Act entirely redundant but this particular measure is preserved by Schedule 1 paragraph 16 of the current Act (CDPA 1988).
The main conditions are that at the time at least 50 years have elapsed since the end of the year in which the author died and at least 100 years since the work was created. Also the work must be kept in a “…library, museum or other institution where…it is open to public inspection.”
This could be a way around the 2039 rule, which gives extended copyright protection to unpublished works, by allowing publication in certain specific cases. Section 7(7) of the 1956 Act goes on to confirm that publication of the whole or part of the unpublished work in these circumstances is not infringing.
A significant condition is added at 7(7)b: “Immediately before the new work was published, the identity of the owner of the copyright in the old work was not known to the publisher of the new work…” So in a way the exception only applies to “orphan works” although there is no explict demand for a diligent search (or even a not so diligent search).
My enquiry related to the letters of an artist who died in 1932, satisfying the 50 years test. The letters however were from the 1920s, which is too recent. In order to fulfil the conditions of the exception the unpublished work would need to be created no later than the first half of 1917.
On the other hand there could be many older unpublished literary, dramatic and musical works held by libraries, museums etc. where publication would be covered by the exception.
A recent enquiry concerned reading from various literary works at a University event. Do we need permission if the work is still in copyright? Actually there is an exception in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) which is not often discussed. The exception in Section 59(1) permits the reading or recitation in public of a “reasonable extract” from a published literary and dramatic works. There are no restrictions about the context or the type of event, so it could be commercial. Similarly it is not subject to a “fair dealing” test (as are many of the more familiar exceptions in the CDPA), just the “reasonable extract” requirement:
“59 Public reading or recitation
(1) The reading or recitation in public by one person of a reasonable extract from a published literary or dramatic work does not infringe any copyright in the work if it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.
(2) Copyright in a work is not infringed by the making of a sound recording, or the communication to the public, of a reading or recitation which by virtue of subsection (1) does not infringe copyright in the work, provided that the recording or communication to the public consists mainly of material in relation to which it is not necessary to rely on that subsection.”
Section 59(2) even permits the making of a sound recording and communication to the public as long as they do not consist mainly of material which depends on this exception. That is, there needs to be more substantial content to the recording or the communication in addition to the “reasonable extracts” from protected works.
It can be intimidating looking into copyright for the first time and some students put it off until their thesis has already been written. If you can face the subject head-on before you even start a project you will save time later! Here are a few courses and resources to get started with.
The British Library Business and IP Centre has some great sessions coming up in the next month: many are re-run so visit the British Library events pages to see future sessions.
A free webinar ‘Introduction to Copyright’ is a perfect easy-starter: it is just an hour and can be viewed from your home computer.
The Intellectual Property Office has designed some guidance for students and teachers, found on their IP in Education page. The IP Tutor course is free and you can work through it in around 40 minutes.
We are sometimes asked about Patients and Trade Marks, which come under the umbrella of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), along with copyright. This might be a query from a student designing some software as part of their study, or from academics co-creating an app with a colleague or student. The British Library’s ‘How can I protect a business idea’ is a free, half day workshop which outlines IPR and which rights may apply to your project or business. This could be a good foundation for more in-depth sessions such as the Mini-Masterclass Copyright for business. I particularly like the look of this session as it covers copyright in everyday situations such as photographs, music, websites.
For more tailored training, our Copyright Support Officer often visits groups of postgraduate students to give an overview of copyright, or talk about copyright in your thesis. Do get in touch if you would like to arrange a session for your students.