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Copyright: Copyright for Students

This guide provides information on copyright infromation, and the reuse of third party materials.

Copyright for Students

This section provides information and guidance to students on copyright law. Throughout your course of study you will want to access, resources, download content and reuse it for your assignments. Fortunately, copyright law recognises the need for you to do this, and makes provision under 'fair dealing' for non-commercial research and private study. 

Fair Dealing

Fair dealing relates to exceptions that can be made to using copyrighted information, but requires that you only copy 'as much of a work as is necessary for the purpose' and that copying 'must not impact on rights holders' legitimate ownership of their work'.

The 'fair dealing' section of UK copyright law permits you to copy extracts from sound recordings, films and broadcasts as well as literary, dramatic and musical works for private study or non-commercial research purposes.  All types of copyright are covered and acknowledgement of the source must be provided.  

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that assists authors and creators who want to share their work, by providing free copyright licences and tools.

Creative Commons licences are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

There are several different Creative Commons licenses with different permissions attached. For example, a CC BY license is very open and only requires that you credit the original creator, whereas a CC BY-NC license does not allow commercial use.

To better understand what each license allows you to do, take a look at this infographic.




Accessible copies

All disabled people are now covered by the legislation where their impairment affects their ability to study or work on an equal basis as someone without impairment. This means that all materials can now be altered to an alternate appropriate format as long as an appropriate format copy is not already commercially available to the student. Alternative formats might include:

  • making Braille, large print or audio copies of books available to visually impaired people,
  • making audio descriptions for films or broadcasts for visually impaired people,
  • making subtitled films or broadcasts for deaf or hard of hearing people,
  • making accessible copies of books, newspapers or magazines for dyslexic people.

This alternative formats can be made by the student or a recognised student helper. It is also possible to request copies from the Library and Learning Services team. These may also be requested as part of the reasonable adjustment processes worked through with our Student Services Colleagues. Further information on requesting accessible copies can be found in our guide on Specialist Study Support.


Exams and coursework

The law allows you to make copies of work to include in your assessments and exams. You must always ensure that you include appropriate acknowledgement, which will also ensure you avoid any potential risk of plagiarism.

This exception, however, does not permit you to make your work available online or in print. To do this, you must seek permission from the rights holder to reproduce their work in your publication.


Yes you can, as long as the copies are made for non-commercial purposes or private research. However, you can not then share those images with another person.
For non-commercial purposes, or private research, you can make copies up to:
  • one article in a single issue of a journal or set of conference proceedings, or a single law report
  • up to 10% of a book or a complete chapter, whichever is greater
  • a whole poem or short story from a collection, provided the item is not more than 10 pages
  • up to 10% (maximum of 20 pages) per short book (without chapters), report or pamphlet
  • one separate illustration or map up to A4 size
  • short excerpts from musical works (not whole works or movements). No copying is allowed for performance purposes
Even when you post things to social media you keep the copyright of whatever you have posted. However, when you do so you are agreeing to license your work to the hosting site for them to use as stated in their terms and conditions, and you are confirming that you hold the copyright for whatever you upload. So, before you upload anything to the internet, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube you should:
  • make sure that what you upload is yours - not someone elses. If you need to upload their work, you must seek permission, and be granted permission before you do it,
  • read the terms and conditions of the site. When you upload to some sites you are giving them permission to use your content for any purpose without consulting you.
  • only link to resources produced under Creative Commons licence, or that you have permission to link to,
  • check for any copyright information, do not assume there is no copyright, just because it isn't stated,
  • be aware that social media sites take no responsibility for any breach of copyright. You are responsible for anything you post.
All images you find on the internet are protected by copyright . However, it may be possible to copy images without infringing copyright if they are being used for one of the following safe purposes:
  • non-commercial purposes or private research
  • criticism and review