Copyright: Copyright explained


Copyright is a means of protecting a person’s intellectual property by ensuring that other people do not copy or adapt the material. Copyright protection comes into being when the material is created. As a Higher Education Institution we are required to comply with copyright law through purchasing and adhering to the terms of various licences enabling material to be used for teaching, learning and research.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) provides a detailed explanation of copyright and other forms of intellectual property such as designs, patents and trademarks at:

Selecting the links on this page constitutes agreement to abide by UK copyright law and the terms and conditions of use as defined by publishers.

Copyright Explained

The following types of work are protected by copyright:

Literary Works

Any original written work e.g. novels, poetry, letters, directories, the lyrics of musical works; and so Web pages, email messages, news bulletins etc. will all be examples of literary works protected by copyright . Computer programs are also protected as a literary work.

Dramatic Works

Dramatic works are distinguished from literary works by the inclusion of spoken words, or described actions.

Artistic Works

Includes photographs, sculptures, maps, plans etc. All pictures, images, logos and other graphics on the Web will be protected as artistic works.

Sound Recordings

All sound recordings are protected by copyright.


Moving images and video clips are protected as films.


It should be clear that in any one Web page there may be many different copyrights for the text, pictures, icons and sounds.

Where do I get more help?

Educational Recording Agency (ERA)

The University is licenced by the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Ltd., for off-air recording of free to air radio and television programmes as teaching aids. Recordings made must clearly be labelled for educational use only, with labels available from the ERA. Recordings may only be used with registered students. ERA conducts ongoing statistical surveys of recordings in educational establishments and the University may be selected to participate to ensure compliance with the terms of the licence conditions and to provide a record of any recordings made.

Retention of recordings

  • Programmes recorded between 1st August 1989 and 30th May 1990 can be retained indefinitely.
  • Programmes recorded after 30th May 1990 under the terms of an ERA Licence can be retained indefinitely while a current ERA Licence is held.
  • Programmes recorded prior to 1st August 1989 are governed by the terms of the licence under which they were recorded.

Digital Recordings

Under this licence off-air recordings cannot be used in a VLE unless access can be restricted to on-campus. This option is not available within our current VLE. The adaptation, alteration or mutilation of a recording is not permitted. This includes the separation of soundtrack from images, the substitution of another commentary, or alteration which would change the original concept of the work. See the ERA website: for further details.

Where do I get more help?

Date: 16 May 2018

The University of Greenwich holds a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence. This licence:

  • Permits reprographic copying (onto paper from paper) of multiple copies (see amounts below) by or for the benefit of registered University staff and students.

  • Permits scanning of printed material. (Does not include electronic downloads - see Copyright and Electronic Journals PDF).

  • Enables copies to be made only from Licensed Material published in the UK or the Mandating Territories. These include most English-speaking countries and most of Europe apart from items in the List of Excluded Works. Lists of United States Publishers, Mandating Territories and Excluded Works and further detail on the licence is available on the CLA web site:

  • Covers copying for all University courses whether in the UK or abroad. However, the license only permits copying or scanning to take place in the UK.

Permitted amounts copied or scanned must not exceed either singly or in aggregate the greater of 10% of any published edition, or

i. in the case of a book one complete chapter;

ii. in the case of an article in an issue of a serial publication or in a set of conference proceedings, one whole article;

iii. in the case of an anthology of short stories or poems one short story or poem not exceeding ten (10) pages in length;

iv. in the case of a published report of judicial proceedings, the entire report of a single case.


There are some limited exceptions to copyright - these do not give rights to use copyright material, they simply state certain activities which do not infringe copyright. These include limited use for non-commercial research and private study. Copyright is infringed where either the whole or a "substantial part" of a work is used without permission, unless it falls within one of the exceptions. A substantial part can mean a "qualitative" significant part. This means that even a small portion of the whole work can still be a "substantial part".

Fair Dealing

The EU Copyright Directive "The Harmonisation of Certain Aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society (2001/29 EC)" was implemented in the UK at the end of October 2003 by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act and related rights regulations 2003.
One major change is that for "fair dealing". This exemption to the copyright restrictions only now applies for non-commercial purposes. There is no strict definition of what “fair dealing” means but it has been interpreted by the courts on a number of occasions by looking at the economic impact on the copyright owner of the use. Where the economic impact is not significant, the use may count as fair dealing. "Fair dealing" itself is not defined by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act but general guidelines are to follow the limits stated in the CLA licence.

Where do I get more help?

Date: 16 May 2018


Printed books, journals and magazines published in the UK can be scanned providing they are not on the standard list of exclusions or the list of works excluded from scanning under the Licence as published on the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) website:

  • A digital copy should be an authentic representation of the original with the exception of separate image pages.
  • If an HEI owns an electronic version of a book or journal this should be linked to in preference to scanning print.

Digital copies should be distributed via course based collections – e.g. Moodle where collections of materials tailored to a specific course are held. Only students enrolled on the course for which the material has been scanned and the course tutor should have secure authenticated access. The students and the course tutor may download and print out (once only) the scanned material.

Digital copies cannot be stored in open resources, be made available on the publicly accessible internet, or accessed from the library catalogue where delivery is across course boundaries. However, a digital copy can be used by students on more than one course provided that relevant records are kept.

Digital copies can also be delivered as an email attachment to students on a course and can be used in presentations.

Designated persons must prepare and distribute digital copies via course collections. In the case of Greenwich, Information Services will make the copies and the course convenor will take responsibility for distribution via the virtual learning environment or School intranet and for the removal once the course is completed. A separate record must be kept each time a digital copy is used on a course as the CLA require detailed annual reporting. All digital copies must contain a prominent copyright notice.

Digital copies added to course collections should be removed at the end of the teaching or assessment period unless the same course is to be taught in the following term/session. A new request must be made if the digital copy is used on a different course from the one previously requested. Use in a different course is a new request and must be reported again as part of the CLA data reporting requirements.

Where do I get more help?

Date: 16 May 2018

Electronic journals are protected by copyright law, in the same way as printed journals. Their use is also usually subject to the terms of a licence agreed between the university Library and the publisher. The Library signs a licence with each publisher which permits certain activities and forbids others. Licence terms may vary from publisher to publisher, but a few general principles are:

Permitted usage

Authorised Users, i.e. current staff and registered students of the University of Greenwich, may: print a copy of an article for personal use; download a copy of an article for personal use; send a copy of an article to another authorised user.

Course Packs

Authorised users, i.e. staff and registered students of the University of Greenwich, may: incorporate articles or portions of articles into Course Packs for use at the University of Greenwich (each article or portion thereof should carry appropriate acknowledgement of its source, e.g. author, title, and originally published in ".............." (Journal title).

Forbidden usage

  • The removal or alteration of the authors' names, the journal title, the publisher’s copyright notices, or other means of identification from an article.
  • The making of multiple print or electronic copies (except where licence permits for course packs).
  • The mounting of articles on an internet server (some licences allow the mounting of articles on a virtual learning environment or secure intranet).
  • The use of articles for commercial use, including student placements.
  • The sending of printed or electronic articles to unauthorised users (i.e. anyone who is NOT a student or a member of staff at the University of Greenwich).
  • The alteration, adaption or modifying of articles.

Where do I get more help?

Date: 16 May 2018

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