Copyright is infringed when any of the protected acts (i.e. copying, performing, adapting etc.) are carried out to the whole or a substantial part of a work without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

So you can copy an insubstantial part, but what constitutes 'insubstantial' isn't precisely defined and will vary from work to work. 'Insubstantial' also relates more to the quality than the quantity of the part that has been copied. 

To avoid infringement:

  • Copyright law provides some permitted exceptions - these are circumstances where you can reuse copyright materials without breaking the law. They are normally subject to a fair dealing assessment for the amount you can copy.
  • Staff can use licences held by the University which allow copying of certain materials for educational purposes.
  • You can use open licensed materials where the copyright owner allows some reuse e.g. Creative Commons licences.
  • You may need to seek permission from the copyright holder.

Why is this relevant to me?

Most information sources you will use in your studies, research and teaching will be protected by copyright. So if you want to copy something you need to be aware of how and what you can use.

University regulations and policies place responsibility on both students and staff to comply with UK copyright law. These include:

Infringements of copyright are serious. They may result in disciplinary action being taken against you. Very serious acts of infringement, such as dealing in pirated copies of copyright works, or unauthorised use of electronic databases, may have significant legal and financial consequences.

As well as legal considerations, abuse of copyright infringes academic ethics. In particular, it may give rise to accusations of plagiarism. Passing off somebody else’s work in this way may incur a serious sanction if detected.


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