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Staffordshire University Copyright Guidance

A guide to best practices with copyright

Students and copyright

Free stock photo of desk, notebook, pen, workingDuring your studies you will want to copy or download third-party materials such as book chapters, journal articles and images. This material is likely to be covered by UK copyright law which limits the amount of material that you can copy. Fortunately, under the current law there are rules and exceptions that allow you to copy for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study within reasonable limits. 

•    Original literary works such as novels or poems, tables or lists and computer programmes
•    Original dramatic works such as dance or mime
•    Original musical works
•    Artistic works (paintings, drawings etc.), photographs and sculptures
•    Sound recordings
•    Film
•    Broadcasts
•    Typographical arrangements (ie. the layout or actual appearance) of published edition

The University holds a CLA UUK/GuildHE Higher Education Licence that covers copying from most books, journals, magazines published in the UK, plus many digital publications and websites.

The licence allows you to copy:

  • No more than one whole chapter of a book
  • No more than one whole article from a journal issue 
  • No more than one whole case report from a Law Report
  • No more that 10% of a given work, whichever is greater.

Remember that any third-party material you include in your work must be acknowledged appropriately. 

Referencing is a system used in the academic community to indicate where ideas, theories, quotes, facts and any other evidence you have used to support your assignments can be found.  You will find information on how to correctly cite and reference your sources in RefZone.

It is important to note that the legal permissions that allow you to reference third-party material in your academic work do not extend to the work if you choose to publish it. In this case you must seek permission from the sources to use their work.


My Work and Copyright

​​Copyright does extend to any work you create at Staffordshire University. However, the University reserves the right to use your work for administrative, educational and promotional purposes.

Free Resources

​​If you are concerned about copyright issues with an image, video clip or audio you have found, please use the Further Information pages to locate some resources that are free to use with no copyright issues.


Don't get caught out by copyright on The Internet! 

Anyone can create content and publish it on a website - but that doesn't mean that it is free to use.  Do not assume that because you can copy or  download material that it is legal to do so.  Content on the web is covered by the same copyright laws as other original material.

Social Media

When material is posted on social media, copyright laws apply in the same way as if it were published in a book or journal, or on a website.  Copyright law is often broken on social media - never assume that whoever posted it 'owns' the content, or that you have the right to re-use it. 

When you post your own original content to a social media platform you continue to own the copyright to that material.  However, by posting it you are allowing the platform provider to use that material for their own purposes (including commercial use).  Always read the terms and conditions of the site.

Never upload anything that is not yours - such as artwork, images or photographs - you must always own the content yourself, or have been given explicit permission by the owner to share it.  It is your personal responsibility to check for copyright before using any material, and you will also be responsible for any infringment of copyright law related to content that you have posted.


​​Just because an image is freely searchable online, and you are able to copy or download it, it does not automatically mean it is free to use. A rule of thumb is to assume that all images are under copyright and you will need to get permission to use them.

If you are unsure about the copyright of an image, you can use sites such as TinEye and perform an image verification search.

Additionally you can check the further information section to find sources of free images that you can use in your work.

Blog​s & Vlogs

Content created for blogs and vlogs that is from a third-party should only be used with permission. This includes music, images and text content.

It is important to be aware of how data is collected for generative AI as it could potentially reveal that any information that is placed into it could be then used in the future as a reference. Generative AI is trained and learns through material that it is fed such as news articles, academic papers, forum posts and websites. The AI is also trained on false information in order for it to learn and pick out that false information. 

With AI being allowed more access to the internet as well as it's own results, it's important to make sure to not only be aware of what's being output from but also what you are inputting too as that might get used to teach the AI in the future. 

Be aware of what you are asking the AI to do and avoid revealing personal information such as providing your name or institutional information as there is no way to track what happens to the data after the request is sent. 

Please be aware, that inputting copyrighted content into systems such as ChatGPT to paraphrase the original information may be classed as a copyright breach. 

thief carrying a sack containing a light bulb


Plagiarism is when you portray the ideas, work or words of another person without proper acknowledgement.  When using extracts of a copyright work you must make sure you fully reference it correctly, otherwise you could be accused of plagiarism.

It also includes ‘self plagiarism’ which occurs when, for example, you submit work that you have presented for assessment on a previous occasion. 


Referencing is a system used in the academic community to indicate where ideas, theories, quotes, facts and any other evidence you have used to support your assignments can be found.

​​For more information on referencing please us the RefZone that includes guides to how to credit your sources for a variety of different works. In addition you can also use RefWorks to help you create your references.