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Copyright guidance

Copyright is one of the intellectual property rights (others include patents & trademarks) designed to protect the “expression of ideas”. It aims to protect and reward original creator(s) of works for the investment of their time, effort and skill.

UK Copyright Law protects the commercial rights of authors, creators and publishers of written works (including their typographical arrangement), music (both composition and performance), works of art and computer programmes. In simple terms, it allows them to control who copies the material they have created so that they retain the right to exploit its commercial potential.

Further information about copyright and how it applies to Higher Education can be found on the Copyright Licensing Agency's website.

In summary:

  • Written, music and art works: covers a work until 70 years after the death of the originator
  • Computer programmes: 50 years from date of creation
    Sound recordings/broadcasts: 70 years from the end of the year recorded/broadcasted– this applies to music performers’ royalties
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions: 25 years from first year of publication

Copyright responsibilities

Adherence to copyright legislation and licences is a university-wide responsibility. All members of staff have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with and abide by the current copyright licensing arrangements.

You are responsible for ensuring that anything you copy for your individual use or copy / distribute to students complies with licensing arrangements and the law.

Distributing material that is in breach of copyright, whether physically or electronically could lead to the University facing significant financial penalties and/or legal action.

Copying material

You can legally copy very little for your own use. However, copyright law makes exceptions that allow individuals to copy a very limited amount of material to enable them to undertake:

  • Private study
  • Non-commercial research
  • Criticism and review (provided the work has been lawfully made available to the public and the work must be sufficiently acknowledged)

This is known as ‘Fair Dealing’

The amount that can be copied under Fair Dealing has never been legally defined. However, it is by convention accepted to mean a general permission to copy as long as what is copied does not harm or prejudice the interests of the rights holder. The amounts to copy stated below should therefore be treated as guidelines:

What can I copy for my personal use?

Books and print journals

You must copy no more than one chapter of a book, or one journal article from an issue of a journal. You must only make a single copy and it must be for your individual use.

Journal articles from library online resources

You must only download articles for your own personal use. They must not be emailed to anyone else (including colleagues). They must not be saved anywhere that other people can access including onto shared network drives.


You must only copy one article from an issue of a print newspaper and it must be for your individual use.

Printed Music

There are different elements of copyright as we need to consider the composer, lyricist, arranger and publisher as to who owns the copyright. However, the Government copyright notice states:

"If the work is protected by copyright, there are exceptions in copyright legislation which allow for copying of printed music in certain circumstances without permission. These include copyright exceptions for research and private study; criticism, review and quotation; parody, caricature and pastiche; and education. These exceptions are restricted as ‘fair dealing’ so no more of the work should be used than is necessary."

Websites and web pages

Don’t assume that because material is freely available on the web that you are free to copy it. Always check the permissions of the website you are using and check whether or not it explicitly states that you may copy material. This includes images that you have found from Google Image Search and other free search engines.

Protecting copyright

Who owns the copyright of your work?

  • Copyright is automatically assigned to a work once it is in a fixed state.
  • You do not need to register copyright.
  • Copyright ownership always rests with the author(s) in the first instance.
  • In the case of material you submit to commercial publishers you will often be asked to assign copyright to the publisher

Hope and your copyright

The university has a clearly defined policy on the copyright interest it will assert in work that you produce in the course of your employment.

  • Copyright of “scholarly work” such as journal articles and books written whilst employed at Hope is retained by individual lecturers.
  • Academics however may have assigned copyright to commercial publishers on signing publisher agreements.
  • If academics carry out externally funded research, copyright of written outputs may be retained by funding bodies –contractual agreements should be scrutinised.
  • Be mindful of collaborative works with other authors:
    • Copyright ownership will be shared between academic colleagues
    • May have other restrictions on their copyright ownership complicating matter
  • Exception in terms of copyright ownership is copyright of teaching materials which is retained by Hope:
  • “the copyright in course materials produced by the lecturer in the course of his/her employment for the purposes of the curriculum of a course run by Liverpool Hope University and produced, used or disseminated by the employer shall belong to Liverpool Hope University” (Academic Employment Contract)

Negotiating with publishers

In the case of commercially published work, publishers’ will also assert a copyright interest in your work.

  • Commercial publishers will often require academics to assign all or a significant proportion of their copyright over to them when they submit manuscripts.
  • Academics cannot assume that just because they wrote something, they retain the right to copy at will. This includes making their own work available to students, which if copyright has been assigned to the publisher, they will lose the right to do so.
  • Always scrutinise the terms of your contract, or look for copyright terms on the journal website you are submitting to.

Third party copyright - other copyright interests in your work

You will often use other copyright material in the course of producing your own work. As such you need to ensure that you have the appropriate permission to do so.

  • You must get permission from the copyright-holder to use an extract from one work of ‘substantial’ length in another work.
  • This also applies to images, tables and diagrams
  • If work is still in print contact the publisher (rights department)
  • If author has died, work is long out of print or publisher has gone out of business tracing copyright ownership can be very laborious
  • Lack of response does not mean that you can use

Protecting work you make freely available in the public domain

It is possible both to publish your work and make it freely available and still protect your copyright.

  • There are various options available for publishing your work in a forum where it is freely available. This is often known as Open Access publishing
  • There are also simple means of ensuring you can protect the copyright of work you choose to make freely available

If you would like any further help with copyright issues related to your own work please contact AskaLibrarian@hope.ac.uk.