Copyright and teaching

Most published books, journals, images, and music are subject to copyright restrictions. Read our information about copyright for teaching purposes.


As an academic you will invariably want to use copyright works in some way to support your teaching. For example, you may want to:

  • hand out photocopied or scanned extracts from books and journals
  • include images in your lecture slides
  • add digitised materials to your reading lists.

Staying compliant

There are a number of licences and exceptions under copyright law that allow you to use copyright works for educational purposes.


Copyright Licensing Agency's Higher Education licence

The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education blanket licence permits multiple copies of certain types of copyright works to be made for all students on a particular module and for the tutor, but the limitations detailed below will apply.

Your copies must fall within the limits of whichever is the greater, 10% or:

  • one chapter of a book
  • one article of a journal issue
  • one paper of one set of conference proceedings
  • one report of a single case from a report of judicial proceedings
  • one short story or one poem of not more than 10 pages in an anthology of short stories or poems.

Copies can be made from UWE Bristol Library's print or electronic collections and can be photocopied or distributed electronically via Blackboard.

All digital copying must be reported annually to the CLA, therefore all digitisation requests must be processed by the Library Digitisation Service. The Library Digitisation Service will check your course materials for compliance with CLA HE Licence terms, scan course material for you and advise you of your options where this is not possible.

Guide to the Library Digitisation Service (staff intranet)

Licenced e-resources

All electronic resources, including databases, e-journals and e-books are made available through subscriptions handled by the Library. Access to these resources is allowed under the terms of the licences drawn up by the supplier, all staff and students at UWE Bristol are responsible for ensuring that they comply with these licences.

General rules:

  • You must not share any material with unauthorised users (ie non-members of UWE Bristol).
  • All use must be for non-commercial purposes ie private study, teaching or research.
  • You must not modify the text of any copyright material.

Not all database providers permit access by students and staff at UWE Bristol partner institutions (eg Hartpury College). The database descriptions on each database page will tell you whether the database provider authorises you to access that particular database.

Other licences

Below is a list of links to the major licences bought by the University. For further information about these licences, please contact us.

Educational Recording Agency (ERA)

An ERA licence permits UWE Bristol to record TV and radio programmes off-air, and make copies, for non-commercial educational purposes. It also permits us to show these recordings as part of teaching.

Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA)

The NLA licence permits UWE Bristol to copy and reuse content from print and digital newspaper publications, as part of teaching.

Ordnance Survey

The Ordnance survey licence allows UWE Bristol to use Ordnance Survey mapping data as part of their teaching.

Higher Education Printed Music Licence (HEPML)

UWE Bristol does not hold the Higher Education Printed Music Licence (HEPML) and the Library does not have a printed music collection.

If you need to access printed music there is a wide range of content available via the subject databases.

Music databases

Copyright exceptions

Illustration for instruction

Illustration for instruction is usually interpreted to mean that a copy can be used to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point but cannot be copied merely for aesthetic purposes to make a presentation look more attractive. The copying of works in any medium (including films, images and broadcasts) is permitted as long as:

  • the use of the work is used solely to illustrate a point
  • the use of the work is not for commercial purposes
  • the use is 'fair dealing'
  • it is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement.

Copying material for use in examinations can also rely on this exception so long as it falls within these criteria.


  • A lecturer can take a small number of clips from a DVD or website and put them on Blackboard, accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, for students on a particular course to access and use as part of their learning.
  • Images, such as photographs of works of art, can be included in a PowerPoint presentation and put on Blackboard as long as their purpose is for illustration. Access should be limited to students on a particular course and for the duration of the course.
  • Event capture technology can be used to record a lecture which includes third party copyright material used to illustrate a teaching point. Only so much of the copyright work can be used as is necessary for illustration for instruction.  Access to the recorded lecture should be password protected via Blackboard rather than being available openly online.

Criticism, review and quotation

Copyright in a work is not infringed by the use of a quotation from the work (whether for criticism or review or otherwise) provided that:

  • the work has been made available to the public
  • the extent of the quotation is no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used

As with all exceptions, fair dealing applies and acknowledgement must be given.

Copying and use of extracts

This exception allows educational establishments to make copies of extracts of all types of copyright works, except broadcasts and standalone artistic works (such as single images), provided the copy is made for teaching purposes and accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement. No more than 5% of a work can be copied in any period of 12 months.

This exception only applies where there is no licence available for the work. Therefore, for works covered by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd (CLA) licence, the copying must be carried out under the terms of the CLA license.


A non-UK publication is excluded under the CLA Licence and there are no other licences that apply. Under this exception, a lecturer could add an extract to Blackboard or a reading lists provided it does not exceed the extent limits of 5% of a work in any 12 month period, and the purpose of copying and making the chapter available is limited to teaching for a non-commercial purpose.

Linking to electronic journals and books rather than copying

Instead of making a copy, you may wish to link to the online item on the publisher's web site in order to avoid infringing copyright and licence limitations. Please use our reading list management tool and view the Library's Using collection on the staff intranet for further information.

Reading lists

Fair dealing

The exceptions above only apply if the use of the work is ‘fair dealing’. ‘Fair’ is not defined, but the principle is not to unfairly deprive rights holders of a financial return, by copying only a fair amount. For practical purposes, a reasonable proportion is: a single copy of no more than one chapter or article or up to 5% of a published work.

For further information, please view the copyright exceptions for education.

Performing, playing or showing a work

If you need to show an entire film, documentary, broadcast or sound recording as part of an in-person lecture, seminar or organised course showing you can do so if the showing is exclusively for an audience of teachers, staff and students at an educational establishment.

Further guidance on showing recorded works can be accessed on the staff intranet.

Examples of copyright in practice

Copying images for teaching

If the images you are using are in your presentation or class handouts are to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point, you can rely on a copyright exception to include these images without infringing copyright. See 'Illustration for Instruction' under the exceptions listed above. This exception cannot be used however if you are using images purely to make your teaching materials look more attractive.

Finding images to spice up your presentation can be a challenge, Just because an image is easily accessible on the internet does not mean that it is in the public domain as far as copyright is concerned. Fortunately there are lots of images available which have been licensed under Creative Commons licenses. There are different types of Creative Commons license but all of the CC licences require that users attribute the creator of the work.

You can use Advanced search in Google to find images that are licensed for reuse and Creative Commons Search lets you search across a range of CC licensed resources (images and media) provided by various organisations including Flickr and Wikimedia Commons. There are also many other image resources offering copyright-free images that can be used for educational purposes.

The CLA HE Licence also allows the copying of illustrations, graphs, charts, etc., whether full page or embedded within a page, for all students on a particular module. Please get in touch with the Library Digitisation Service if you wish to do this.

Sharing TV and radio recordings

The Educational Recording Agency (ERA) licence permits the University to record programmes from a range of TV channels and for them to be recorded onto DVD.

The licence also allows the University to subscribe to the online Box of Broadcasts (BoB) service, which can be used by students and staff in the UK to record TV and radio programmes, both for teaching and private study, and then to view the programmes in their web browser and via Blackboard.

The ERA licence also permits UWE Bristol students and staff in the UK to access and download content from on-demand services such as the BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Player, Demand 5, and Clic (S4C) for educational purposes. Linking to these services from within Blackboard is permitted, but due to the short-term availability of many of the recordings, BoB may offer a better solution.

Event capture

As long as the copyright works used in your lecture are covered by a copyright license, an open license such as Creative Commons, or fall under a copyright exception such as illustration for instruction then recording the will not affect your use of these materials. The rules are the same for recorded lectures as they are for live lectures and therefore acknowledgement of the source should always be given and the use of the material should be fair. Further information for staff can be found on our Event Capture pages (staff intranet).

Video materials

It is permitted to use event capture when showing ERA licensed media during a lecture as long as the use is for educational purposes only, however the lecture recording process will only make a very low-grade copy of any videos you show in class via the computer, so this is not a recommended way to make such materials available to your students.

If you wish to use any film and sound recordings including material from on-demand services or Box of Broadcasts in a lecture you want to record, it is best practice to pause the recording during the video or edit these parts out of the recording later (before making available to students). Where web-based video (eg Box of Broadcasts or YouTube) has been used in a lecture it is preferable to provide a link instead, as your students will then benefit from the video content outside of the lecture.

Special consideration should be given to the following:

  • Film and sound recordings which are used under the University's ERA licence, such as those from Box of Broadcasts (BoB) and other media platforms, are not intended for use by students overseas. Best practice is to pause the lecture capture while the material is used, and include a link to the material in the lecture notes. If this isn't possible, caution should be exercised before sharing the lecture capture with students overseas.
  • iTunes, YouTube or Vimeo material. The copyright resides with the creator of the video, so you would need to obtain permission directly from them (YouTube or iTunes cannot grant this on their behalf). Some of these materials may be available for educational use or under a CC licence. While it may be permissible to show these recordings for educational purposes, you should exclude this content from a recorded lecture and provide a link to the material instead. It is best practice to do this for all web-based video content.
  • Unpublished material which has not previously been made available to the public.

Risks when using copyright works

Unfortunately, knowing whether you can re-use copyright works isn't always straightforward and sometimes there will be an element of interpretation and risk. The penalties which could be incurred for infringement of copyright can include reputational damage to yourself and the university and also financial penalties. Often disputes can be resolved through removal of the work in question but it is important to be aware of all of the potential consequences to infringement.

When using copyright materials, it is useful to consider how you are sharing a resource as this will impact on the risks involved. For example, including a small extract of a textbook in your teaching materials and sharing this with your students via Blackboard would be considered low risk, as the material would only be accessible to students enrolled on your module. If however you shared the same extract on your personal website, this would be considered high risk as the material would be openly available on the web and therefore accessible to everyone.

Always consider whether your use of a copyright work is 'fair dealing' before copying.

Copyright tips for teaching

Access Library support

You can stay on the right side of copyright and licensing law by continuing to use the services and content available via the library.

The Library’s Digitisation Service continues to provide digitisation for book chapters, extracts and journal articles. All digitisations are digitised under the terms of the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Licence and we can advise on copyright issues associated with digitisation. Steps are taken to ensure that all digitisations are as accessible as possible within the terms of the CLA licence, this includes using a high-quality scanner to produce clear and accurate scans.

You may want to consider the use of open textbooks (staff intranet). Free at point of use textbooks of equivalent quality can be sourced through a variety of open-access platforms. They can make a real saving for students with current textbook spending of up to £400 per year.

You can find out more about the benefits of open access and find links to a range of open-access resources.

Don’t forget online training videos that can support your students particularly in improving skills with software they will need for their courses and their future career. LinkedIn Learning can support your students with a range of content particularly focused on the software, design and business skills they will need for their courses and their future career.

Your Subject Librarian can provide you with specialist support and advice on resources that meet your subject requirements.

You may also find the information about IP and research on the staff intranet useful.

Link, don't copy

You can link directly to e-journal articles, e-books and websites. By doing this you generally will avoid copying and copyright issues.

You do need to check if a website prohibits linking for educational use in their terms of use so always check these, they can be found at the bottom of the web page. If you have any difficulty, speak with your Subject Librarian.

You can add items to list directly from any webpage this intranet guide explains how and there is a brief video guide to support you.

Be secure

Be inventive about how you deliver teaching, but make sure you are reaching only the right audience eg your students and not everyone on the web. Access to library resources is restricted to UWE Bristol staff and students only. If you use them in your teaching materials make sure they are hosted in the secure VLE environment.

Using copyrighted work

Under UK law you may use copyrighted work to illustrate a teaching point. It is advisable to use small amounts, such as a paragraph or a single image.

To avoid conflict with rights holders, always consider the financial impact of your actions. If what you intend to do will significantly damage sales, then it is unlikely to be viewed as fair under UK law.

All extracts copied under this exception must be fully acknowledged and the amount limited only to the amount needed to illustrate the point.

Text and images are separate copyrighted works. Remember, when you copy an image that you are copying the whole image, not part of a page.

The advice on the rest of this page provides a fuller list and explanation of copyright exemptions.

Seeking permission

If you want to use material outside license conditions you can try contacting the rights holder to ask permission for your intended use. Email them explaining your intended use and highlighting the benefits for them by giving permission. Some rights holders may ask for recompense for their work, but others may be happy for it to be used for free with a suitable acknowledgement.

If you are granted permission to use rights holders works you should keep the email or letter that confirms this and the terms of use.

See our guidance below on acknowledging other people’s content for more detail.


The illustration for instruction exemptions allows you to use images to illustrate a teaching point. It does not allow use of images to make slides more visually appealing.

Using Homer Simpson to highlight safety in Nuclear Power stations could have an educational point however adding it as a way of injecting humour into your slide deck is not permitted.

There are large amounts of copyright free images available although they are not always easy to identify. It is easier to search collections that you know are licensed for easy reuse such as images with Creative Commons Licenses or that permit educational reuse.

  • Image resources – Library resource with links to image resources across the range of UWE subject areas
  • Openverse - Creative Commons Search - searches Google, Flickr and Pixabay for CC licensed images
  • Freeimages - search free images, avoid Getty iStock
  • Flickr - search, then use advanced filters to see only Creative Commons images
  • Pexels - Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensed images
  • Unsplash – Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensed images.

As you are ultimately responsible for your use of images, one final check you may want to carry out is a reverse image search via Tineye. This will allow you to check to ensure the person who put an image on one of the above sites was the person who was permitted to do so.

The FET Learning Innovation Unit website includes articles on using third party content and using copyright free images.

TV, Radio and Music

The ERA licence also permits UWE Bristol students and staff in the UK to access and download content from on-demand services such as the BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Player, Demand 5, and Clic (S4C) for educational purposes. Linking to these services from within Blackboard is permitted, but due to the short-term availability of many of the recordings, BoB may offer a better solution.

In lectures it is best practice to pause the lecture recording providing a link to your students to watch.

If you use iTunes, YouTube or Vimeo material the copyright resides with the creator of the video so again it is best practice to exclude this content from your lecture recordings providing a link to the material.

The FET Learning Innovation Unit have a collection of YouTube-related content including Panopto recordings – The safe and effective way to include YouTube content.

All of these resources can be added to and accessed from course reading lists ensuring the best access for your students. View our full guidance for staff on using on the staff intranet.

Commercially bought CDs and other recordings can be used but should not be included in a lecture recording. Streamed audio from services such as the BBC iPlayer Radio service may be used in class and included in recorded lectures. BoB provides access to this content for a longer period than standard services.

Material should not be streamed outside these parameters without further advice. This includes access to personal streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. The terms and conditions of these streaming services state they are for personal/home use only and therefore any public performance is generally prohibited in most situations.

Further guidance can be found on the staff intranet pages on showing recorded media to students.

Film, TV and radio resources (including BoB)

Acknowledging other people's content

Online courses are often a mix of tutor-created content and pre-existing content copied from books, journals, and websites. You must always acknowledge this in your course materials.

It is best practice to cite and reference quoted text and copied images.

There are less formal approaches to acknowledgement. For example, Creative Commons recommend title, author, source and licence, with source and licence linked to the source and licence text on the website. e.g. ‘"Clouds" by Chris.L.Dodds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0'. The CC search supplies pre-formatted acknowledgements, making it as quick as ‘copy and paste’.

You should also acknowledge embedded video, TV and film clips.

Set expectations

Even if you place all your teaching materials in Blackboard you cannot stop students sending copies to friends or posting them online. You can make your and UWE’s position clear by adding a statement like the one below to your title slide.

© [year] University of the West of England. All rights reserved. This presentation has been added to Blackboard to support your studies.

You may print and/or download a single copy for your personal, educational use. Further redistribution of teaching materials, including making copies available on the internet, is not permitted.

Contact the library if you have a problem

If you have any problems reach out to the library teams who can support you with your needs.

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