Skip to Main Content

Staffordshire University Copyright Guidance

A guide to best practices with copyright

Researching and copyright

antique, book, glassesWhether you are a PhD student or an academic you need to know about copyright law.

Disseminating research outputs is essential to the success of the institution and its researchers. However, it is important that this dissemination takes account of copyright law, and that researchers act according to the licences or conditions agreed with publishers, funding agencies and other relevant parties.




UK copyright law allows researchers to make copies of works ‘for text and data analysis’. This means that where a user has lawful access to a work (eg an e-journal or database subscription) they can make a copy of it for the purpose of carrying out a computational analysis of anything recorded in the work.

The exception only applies under the following conditions:

  • the analysis must be for the purpose of non-commercial research
  • the copy is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgment (unless this is practically impossible)

Copyright is infringed if the copy made is transferred to another person, or it is used for purposes different than those permitted by law (although the researcher could ask the owner for permission to do either of these things). 

Importantly, the law cannot be overridden by contract. Contractual terms which set out to restrict or prevent the doing of the acts permitted under law are unenforceable.


It is important that you consider copyright issues when you publish your thesis. If your thesis contains third-party copyright materials such as photographs and diagrams, you must ensure that you have the permission of the rights holder to include these materials, especially if you intend to make your thesis available to others.

This permission should include the rights to make the materials available through the University's online research repository (STORE).

When one or more of the authors of a work is unknown, or has been identified but cannot be traced, these items are called orphan works.  

Under UK law, if you can prove that you have completed a diligent search to try to identify and locate the right holder, you may make an application for an orphan works licence.  

Before you start you should:

Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website by accessing the Orphan works guidance collection.

Staffordshire University has an Open access mandate and is committed to making all research at the university publicly available and searchable.  For more information please refer to STORE - Guidance for authors.

Benefits of Open Access include:

  • Increased exposure of research via Google, RSS feeds and other search services.

  • Increased citation.

  • Digital preservation of scholarly output.

  • Increased funding opportunities where conditions require Open Access.

  • Enhances and promotes the growing body of free quality academic research.

  • Raising the research profile of Staffordshire University