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Copyright and Licensing

Copyright and Licensing

Copyright is a legal right, which protects the copyright owner or creator of a work. Here you will find information on the basics of UK copyright law including fair dealing, exceptions, and licenses held by the University. All staff and students need to be aware of copyright law and how it impacts teaching, learning and research. The Library Service can offer advice on a wide range of copyright issues - please contact us to find out more.

Copyright basics

Copyright is an intellectual property right that automatically exists as soon as a work is created (i.e. you do not need to apply for copyright). Copyright law is designed to protect the rights of writers, artists, musicians, photographers, publishers and other creators.

Individuals who want to reproduce the original work of others may need to seek permission to do so.

The Copyright Designs and Patents Act, 1988 (CPDA) defines what we can and cannot do. The essence of the act is to protect commercial interests.

The following types of material are protected by copyright:

  • Literary works (print and electronic)
  • Musical works
  • Artistic works (diagrams, illustrations, photos)
  • Sound recordings
  • Films, DVD's, videos
  • Radio & TV broadcasts
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions

The following activities are restricted under copyright:

  • Copying
  • Issuing copies to the public, renting or lending
  • Performing, showing or playing in public
  • Broadcasting
  • Adaptation or amendment of a work
  • Importing, distributing or acquiring infringing copies

Copyright law does not protect ideas for a work, this is where it is often confused with other areas of intellectual property. To understand the various types of intellectual property, and what they cover, please see the Intellectual Property Office website for further details.

Who owns copyright?

The owner of copyright is usually the person who created the material but there are exceptions:

  • If an individual creates material under the terms of his or her employment then copyright usually rests with the employer.
  • By submitting material for publication, an author often signs away copyright to the publisher of the book or journal.

How long does copyright last?

Copyright applies to different types of work for varying periods of time: 

 Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work 

 70 years after the author’s death​​ 

​ Films  

 70 years after the death of the director, screenplay author and composer​ 

 Sound and music recordings 

 70 years from when it’s first published 

​​ Broadcasts 

 50 years from when it’s first broadcast 

 Layout of published editions of written, dramatic or musical works    

 25 years from when it’s first published 


The time period runs from the end of the calendar year in which the author(s) died or from when the broadcast or sound recording was made. When copyright expires, the work enters the public domain, meaning that it can be used and re-used for free by anyone without the need to get permission from the copyright owner. 

Fair dealing

You may copy for educational purposes using the 'fair dealing exceptions', the limits for fair dealing are generally accepted as the following:.   

  • one complete chapter from a book or 5% of the total, whichever is greater.
  • one complete article from a journal issue or set of conference proceedings.
  • the entire report of a single case from a set of law reports.
  • one short story or poem (up to a maximum of 10 pages) from an anthology.
  • a short excerpt from a musical work, provided it is not for performance purposes.
  • a short excerpt of text or film or an image can be used so long as it is to explain or elaborate upon a point being made by a teacher for instruction

A copy is not "fair" unless the answer to all three of the questions below is "yes".    

  • Does the copy preserve the legitimate commercial interest of the copyright owner? (e.g. the user should not copy an item in an effort to avoid buying it)
  • Is the copy being made for the person doing the copying?
  • Is the copy for one of the following purposes:
    • Research of a non-commercial nature 
    • Private study 
    • Criticism or review 
    • Reporting current events 
    • For use in examination 
    • Illustration (text or image or film) for Instruction 

It is essential to give full acknowledgement of the source of any material copied in this way wherever possible. 

Copyright exceptions for users with disabilities

UK legislation provide specific exemptions allowing for copies to be made in an accessible format for the use of disabled person, without infringing copyright.  :

This permits educational establishments, such as Cardiff Met, to make available, distribute and lend accessible format-copies of protected works on behalf of disabled people. The exception permits acts such as: 

  • making braille, audio or large-print copies of books, newspapers or magazines for visually-impaired people 
  • adding audio-description to films or broadcasts for visually-impaired people 
  • making sub-titled films or broadcasts for deaf or hard of hearing people 
  • making accessible copies of books, newspapers or magazines for dyslexic people 

Further guidance can be found on the Intellectual Property Office website:  

Exceptions to copyright: Helping disabled people 


Licenses currently held by Cardiff Met include the following:

Filmbankmedia Single Title Screening Licence (STSL) ​ 

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ The licence allows screening of films to an audiences on a per screening basis with over 13,000 films to choose

​​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​  from.​ 

Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA)​  

​​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ The Photocopying and Scanning HE licence permits HEIs to make multiple photocopies and scan extracts from

 ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​printed books, journals and magazines. 

NLA Education Establishment Licence (NLA)​ 

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​The licence permits the photocopying of articles from a range of national and regional newspapers.​ 

Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS)​ 

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​The licence permits the copying of artistic works onto slides and transparencies. 

Educational Recording Agency (ERA)​ 

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ The licence permits the recording of radio and television broadcasts.​ 

Ordnance Survey (OS)​ 

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ The fee based education license has been withdrawn, this page outlines what copying is permitted under the

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ educational use category regarding OS mapping. 

TheMusicLicence (PRS) 

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​The licence from PPL PRS allows for music to be legally played for employees or customers through the radio,

​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ TV, other digital devices and live performances. 


Eresources and databases

Cardiff Met holds licenses for all our electronic databases and journals.  

In the majority of cases these resources are made available to Cardiff Met staff and students under strict terms for the purposes of private re​search and study. It is important that you observe the specific terms and conditions for each resource as misuse jeopardises electronic access for the entire university. In particular:  

  • You should not give your username and password to anyone else to enable them to access our e-resources
  • You should not forward copies of any of the information retrieved from the databases to a user who is not authorised to use the resource
  • You must not republish the material in any form (i.e. on the web, in Moodle etc) without specific permission from the copyright owner. If you wish to refer anyone to a specific database or journal article please use a hyperlink instead.

Staff and students are reminded of the IT conditions of use that they have accepted.  

Staff are also encouraged to look at the IT Acceptable Use Policy for further information.

For any additional specific copyright queries regarding e-resources please contact


If you want to use material from the Internet you should be aware that, although some web based content is offered freely for you to copy, most is not. Every website will have its own copyright notice where you can check the restrictions on use of its content.  

Live Linking  

It is possible to get around the issue of copyright on websites by projecting pages or playing sound from websites live during a lecture or seminar. This is called "live linking". Live linking to a website is not considered to be copying and you are not infringing copyright law by showing web pages in this way. . 

Use the URL to do this - you can also provide a link to a web page (rather than copying its content) into a Moodle module or Leganto reading list without infringing copyright law.  


Similarly, if you embed a YouTube video or Google map into a blog, you are bringing the original source of that content to your site rather than creating another copy of it and so again this does not contravene copyright. . 

Asking for permission to copy  

What to do if copyright restrictions prevent you from copying and using web content in the way you wanted to:  

  • If the content also exists in printed form you might be able to get a copy that has been cleared for educational use by using the Library's Digitisation Service.
  • You can contact the rights owner directly to ask for permission to use their content.

Further help

For further guidance on anything to do with copyright, please contact