Copyright is a legally enforceable property right that makes it possible for the holder of that right to profit from a work. It does this by preventing others from exploiting the work without the rightsholder’s say so for a period of time. Copyright protects the expression of ideas but not the idea itself. For a work to gain copyright protection it has to be original and should be expressed in a fixed form - for example, in writing (whether in print or electronic). Copyright becomes effective at the time of the creation of the work. It arises automatically in the UK. Individuals who want to reproduce the original work of others may need to seek permission to do so.
The creator of a work usually owns the copyright of that work. However, like any form of property, copyright can be bought, sold, inherited or leased. In the case of a book, the author will usually be the rights holder, though they may grant an exclusive licence to the publisher to publish the book. Alternatively, the author may sell their copyright to the publisher. This means that some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner.
In contrast, the moral rights accorded to film directors and the authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death.
Below are some other exceptions and clarifications to the 70 year rule.
- No more than a chapter of a book OR
- One article from a journal OR
- One case report from a Law Report OR
- No more that 10% of a given work, whichever is greater.
Fair dealing is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright. There is no statutory definition of fair dealing. Fair dealing requires a judgment to be made. Every instance of copying is different. Where the use would not adversely affect sales of the work, and where the amount copied is reasonable and appropriate to the context, then it is likely that it can be considered fair dealing.
Permits the use of a work for the purpose of criticism and review provided that the work has been made available to the public. For this exception to apply the copying of the work must be truly connected with review and criticism and not purely for illustrative or enhancement purposes.
Accessible copies of a copyright work can be made for a disabled person if it is for private use and the work being copied is inaccessible to them without adaptation. See the Accessibility page for more details.
Allows lecturers to copy a small amount of material where necessary to illustrate a teaching point. This extends to include material for examination purposes. Covers music and video as well as text-based material.
Copyright law permits the recording of broadcasts by educational establishments for educational purposes of that establishment, provided that the recording is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible). This exception enables institutions to provide staff and students off-campus access to recordings of broadcasts.
However, this exception only applies where the broadcast is not covered by a licence the institution should have known about, and the majority of broadcasts the University records are already covered by our Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Plus licence. This licence permits the recording of broadcasts for non-commercial educational purposes.
This exception enables UK researchers to copy a work in order to analyse it using text and data mining technologies. The exception applies where the analysis is for the purpose of non-commercial research. You must already have lawful access to the work; for example, where a subscription to a journal is required.
This new exception has been introduced to allow use of copyright work for the purposes of caricature, parody and pastiche. Students and academics might find uses for this, eg in creating and publishing user-generated content in some disciplines.