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Welcome to your copyright guide.  These pages aim to help students and staff to stay within the law when using copyright material. Copyright is a complex subject so this guide does not aim to cover every aspect and is not intended as a replacement for legal advice.

Personal responsibility

Please note that it is the Individual staff member's personal responsibility to ensure that they comply with copyright law. Copyright is a complex area and little is set in stone. It can take legal proceedings to clarify areas such as fair dealing, however no one wants to be a test case, so please ask if you are not sure! If we don't have the answer at our fingertips, we should at least know where to refer you.

Please explore this Copyright LibGuide, contact your Information Specialist or Caroline Long  XT 4488 for further information and advice


An exception in the CDPA (s. 30) permits fair dealing with a quotation from a work that has been made available to the public, provided that that the extent of the quotation is no more than necessary for the specific purpose for which it is used and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.

Copyright law in the UK and staying legal

The rights of copyright holders are protected in the UK by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which came into force in August 1989 and works alongside the EU Directive . There have been many amendments over the years. It is worth bearing in mind that even when items are published abroad we still have to abide by UK law
Full text of the legislation can be found here

The legislation prohibits any copying of works created by another person, unless under an exception to the law (see below), with explicit permission of the rightsholder, or under a licence e.g. the CLA licence

Exceptions under the CPDA allow us to copy  materials for "Illustration for Instruction", "Research and private study", "Parody, caricature and pastiche",  "Text and data mining" and "Criticism and Review" , however multiple copies for teaching should be created under the CLA licence (please see Copyright for Teaching).


Parody, caricature and pastiche

This exception means that in principle it is possible to create parodies that re-use works protected by copyright without having to obtain permission from the rightsholders. However, this use is only allowed insofar as it can be considered ‘fair dealing’. How much copying from a work is fair or unfair is an issue ultimately decided by a court of law taking into account the interests and rights of the copyright owner as well as the freedom of expression of the person relying upon the parody exception.

According to the UK government, under this copyright exception, ‘a comedian may use a few lines from a film or song for a parody sketch; a cartoonist may reference a well known artwork or illustration for a caricature; an artist may use small fragments from a range of films to compose a larger pastiche artwork’; whereas ‘it would not be considered “fair” to use an entire musical track on a spoof video’. You can find the government’s guide on exceptions to copyright for ‘Caricature, Parody or Pastiche’ here.

Copyright basics

Copyright is important because it protects the interests of those who create and those who invest in creativity. If there were no copyright, it would be impossible for creative people to make a living from their creativity. No one would be willing to come up with the money to make a film, to publish a book, or to bring out a record – because there would be no way of earning a return on that investment.

For an interactive copyright tutorial please follow this link: Edu-serv copyright toolkit

Copyright Symbol

Did you know that the copyright symbol is not required to protect your Intellectual Property?

As soon as the expression of an idea is made concrete, copyright is automatically conferred on its creator

Image created by Horia Varlan reproduced under CC BY 2.0.