X Close

Copyright Queries



Archive for the 'Copyright training' Category

Fair dealing Week 2023, part 2: three ‘fair dealing’ exceptions

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?

Notebook and pen with empty checklist lying on a desk

Image by Freepik

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!


Amount used

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

Fair Dealing Week 2023, part 1: how ‘fair and honest’ are you?

By Christina Daouti, on 19 February 2023

Fair Dealing Week (20-24 February 2023) is an annual opportunity to discuss and promote how copyright exceptions can be applied, in a thoughtful and fair-minded way, to use materials without permission from the copyright holder. This is the second Fair Dealing Week marked in the UK, having originated as ‘Fair Use’ week in the US and expanded to countries with similar doctrines last year. You may be interested in some events happening this week.

But what are these copyright exceptions, and what is ‘fair dealing’?

In the UK, you may be able to use materials without permission, for specific purposes. These ‘permitted uses’ are defined in UK copyright law and include research, private study and education.  We will be discussing these in more detail in part 2.

The general principle is that you may be able to use others’ materials in an academic or research context; for example, in an essay, dissertation, lecture, or examination, without permission, as long as the use is ‘fair dealing’. Importantly,  ‘fair dealing ‘ itself  does not have a statutory definition, and this is where you would need to apply your own judgement. As stated in the UK government’s guidance:

“The question to ask is:

how would a fair-minded and honest person deal with the work?”

If this sounds too vague, there are, in fact, certain criteria that have been identified by the courts. You would need to think, not just about what you think is fair and reasonable, but also what would be likely to be accepted as ‘fair dealing’ in court. In general, there are three important points to think about:

  • Use only the amount that is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. One typical example is reproducing too long a quote, when you may need a smaller extract of a work to discuss a point or illustrate an example in class.
  • Would your use have an impact on the commercial – and other – interests of the copyright holder? For example, copying and sharing a whole textbook would certainly affect the market.
  • Fully acknowledge the source. This is essential but, of course, not adequate on its own to justify copying a work.

In the next post, we will discuss how fair dealing can be applied in specific copyright exceptions. In the meantime, it might also be helpful to think of fair-mindedness and honesty in a broader sense. Start the week by taking our quick poll. This is for fun only; we don’t ask for personal information and we will not be using your responses.




Has your work been shared without your permission? Five things you can do

By Christina Daouti, on 1 February 2023

Two cartoon characters talking:- Look at this thing I made (showing an object) - Wow, that;s great...( can't wait to share it with my friends (yanks object out of the first character's hands) - My NAME is on it! (c=unhappy character protests) - That's OK! It will come off (rubbing off the name) Later we see the second character showing the object to other characters, who say: 'Wow, that's great'. Responds: 'thanks', while the first character is in the background, looking unhappy.

Copyright 2014 The Awkward Yeti, theawkwardyeti.com. Reproduced based on blanket permission, which can be found on https://theawkwardyeti.com/2020-about/.

In this blog we often highlight the importance of respecting others’ legal and moral rights when using copyrighted materials.

We tend to speak less often about copyright infringement affecting you as an author. Yet this is clearly as important.  It is increasingly the case, for example, that students make teaching resources  – including lecture slides, handouts and test questions but also, in some cases, unpublished articles, research data and code – publicly available online. This is done without the lecturer’s permission.

In an online environment, students may have a genuine desire to share resources with others. Many are also encouraged to be upload their lecture notes (although they also include their lecturers’ materials) on online platforms, in exchange for access to other resources or even for payment. As a result, materials meant to support students on a specific course but not to be shared without further quality control are made available, risking the lecturer’s or University’s reputation and even compromising publication and commercialisation opportunities.

If you find your teaching materials have already been shared, or if you are concerned that they might appear online without your consent, here are some things you can do:

  1. Know your rights. The default position at UCL is that copyright to your teaching materials belongs to you. Be aware of this fact and if necessary assert your rights, letting others know that sharing is not allowed without your permission.
  2. Mark your work as copyright. Although this is not necessary for copyright to be protected, it is helpful for you and for others to know who the copyright owner is and that the work should not be copied or shared unless explicitly permitted (i.e. for the purposes of the course).
  3. Take down materials. The first point of call should be the student; explain to them that the material was unlawfully uploaded and kindly ask them to have it removed. If this is not possible, most platforms have take down request forms they require you to use. The UCL copyright team can also provide wording if necessary.
  4. Educate your students. It is most likely lack of awareness that makes others infringe copyright. The copyright team is preparing communications to increase the understanding of copyright issues. You can contribute to this effort: you may want to explain to them the consequences of sharing materials unlawfully and where possible, make this awareness part of your teaching. You can also encourage them to complete the online Copyright Essentials module, a short introductory resource.

5. Make your materials open – in your own terms. In some cases where you feel your materials can be shared more widely, you may find it appropriate to license them so that others can reuse them, while you retain copyright, get attributed, and specify the terms of reuse. Creative Commons Licences are the best way to do this. You can specify, for example, whether others can adapt the materials – a great benefit of open educational resources – and whether or not they can be reused commercially.

For more information and support on copyright, we run sessions on copyright for research, teaching, publishing contracts and Creative Commons licences. See  our current programme or contact us to arrange a bespoke session.