Copyright and study

Why is copyright relevant to you?

As a student you are likely to want to photocopy, scan, and download information from books, journals, and online resources to support your learning. You may also want to reuse these materials in your assignments and dissertations. This material will almost certainly be covered by copyright, and UK law limits what you can legally copy and reuse.

The original work that you produce in your studies will also be protected by copyright. You will normally own the copyright in this work.  An exception might arise where a pre-existing agreement allocates copyright to another party (for example, if you or a project you have worked on is sponsored by an external organisation).

To learn more about copyright, see the Basics section.

What can you do?

Our staying compliant checklist outlines the main ways you can use copyright materials within the law.

The most relevant to you are:

Exceptions allow you to copy a 'fair' proportion of a work without the prior permission of the copyright owner. These include fair dealing for:

    • Non commercial research and private study
    • Criticism, review and quotation
    • Illustration for instruction - this covers setting or answering examinations, including preparing dissertations.
  • Open licences which allow some copying and reuse without seeking permission e.g. Creative Commons licences, Open Government licence.
  • Seeking permission from the copyright holder if none of the above cover your intended use.

It is also important to be aware of variations in copyright rules for different types of materials e.g. music, maps, as this can affect what you can do. See the Materials section for further advice.


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