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Staffordshire University Copyright Guidance

A guide to best practices with copyright

Teaching and copyright

It is important to consider copyright when making any third-party material available to your students. You need to know what you can use and how you can use it. Although this is not always straightforward our guidance is designed to help you to develop quality teaching materials without adding to your workload.

Copyright provides some useful exceptions that allow you to copy and use work without having to worry about infringement. In addition the University also holds a number of licences that allow you to copy material for your teaching.

Any teaching staff wishing to have materials such as book chapters or journal articles scanned into a digital format for use in teaching can request this via the Library’s Digitisation Service.

The Digitisation Service allows the creation of a high-quality electronic copy of either one book chapter (or up to 10% of the whole work - whichever is the greater) or one journal article from a print resource whilst remaining fully copyright compliant. (Please remember not to scan and upload items yourself as you may be breaching copyright restrictions, which can be costly and disreputable to the University).

Benefits of Digitisation

  • 24/7 access for your students to digitised reading material
  • Digitised material integrated into your online reading list, making it easy for students to access recommended reading all in one place.
  • High quality OCR searchable scans
  • No copyright infringement

If you would like to request material for use in teaching, please read our guide to the digitisation process.

If you have any questions you can contact the Library via e-mail at:


We are aware that colleagues may want to upload PDF's of articles from our current subscribed resources to Blackboard to improve students access to the resource. Under the terms of the Copyright Licensing agency (CLA) license, you may only do this if you complete the copyright statement/cover sheet that must be attached to the scanned document. If you need help with this, please contact the Digitisation Team. 

Films and Clips

Provided the purpose is for illustration for instruction and the copying is fair you can upload clips to Blackboard. However, the use must not be commercial and must be sufficiently acknowledged. However, you must consider who has access to Blackboard, it may be necessary to restrict access to only learners enrolled on that specific module. 


You will need to ensure that all permissions have been granted to upload an image to Blackboard. This includes images contained within a PowerPoint presentation. It may be possible to consider that the use of images would fall under the fair dealing exceptions of illustration for instruction but it must be considered fair and that is does not negatively impact on the market for the original material. If you are concerned about copyright issues with images take a look at the Further Information pages for access to copyright free images. 


You may be able to use short extracts of music in teaching if it is for the purposes of illustration for instruction or criticism and review. The amount copied must be considered fair and have no impact commercially on the rights holder. Otherwise be very wary of using commercial music in teaching materials, especially if published on Blackboard or the internet. You would need to get permission from the composer, the music publisher and the record company.

Most text-based material used in your teaching is likely to be subject to copyright. This affects photocopying or downloading material.The University has a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence that covers the photocopying and scanning of most UK publications, and some US and international publishers.

It allows:

  • multiple photocopies of limited extracts from copyright protected printed books, journals and magazines
  • digital copies of limited extracts from copyright protected printed books, journals and magazines

There are also exceptions within the law that can allow you to use text in your teaching materials. 


In most cases the photographer owns the copyright to the image. You must ask permission to use the image and acknowledge your source. Be aware of using images found online. Not all images that appear in a search will be copyright free.  If you are unsure or can not identify the owner then use the further information section to access images that have licences designed for resuse. Make sure to acknowledge the sources of your images. 


Ordinance Survey is very strict about the copying of maps. They allow you to copy an area no larger than an A4 page. However, it is always best to seek permission before doing so. 


The use must be non-commercial and sufficiently acknowledged. Live streaming or playing directly from a DVD is fine; storing the clip for future viewing isn’t.


YouTube is a valuable resources but you should take particular care when using a YouTube Video. Many videos are uploaded illegally without the rights holder’s permission. Additionally many video's breach copyright in their content. Best practice is to only use videos from official channels and to check all permissions have been obtained. 


The use of music is very restrictive unless used in specific circumstances. Commercial music is an area where copyright is upheld very strictly, and you should avoid using it unless it’s essential. You may be able to play music in a standalone lecture for instructional purposes, but you would need to gain permission from the rights holders if you wanted to add it to Blackboard. Getting permission to use commercial music will be expensive.