Copyright is a 'property right' which exists to protect the economic rights of those who create works e.g. authors, artists, publishers. This right prohibits the copying of their works except under certain circumstances. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, and subsequent statutory instruments and regulations, set out the circumstances when copying is permitted.
Unless permission has been given or licensed, or covered by an exception in copyright legislation, only the copyright owner may do certain 'restricted acts'; these include:
Examples of licences include the
Copyright protection begins when a work is created. It is automatic, registration is not required nor is the © statement necessary (e.g. © Sheffield Hallam University, 2017). However, it is good practice to do this because it clearly states who owns the copyright and when the copyright period began. Copyright is generally owned by the 'creator' of the material, however it can be 'assigned' to someone else, e.g. a publisher. If a work is created by an employee in the course of their employment, copyright is owned by the employer, subject to any agreement to the contrary.
Different types of work have different lengths of copyright protection. The following table is a summary of the types of material, their copyright owners and the duration of the protection as stated in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
|Type of material||Copyright owner||Length of protection|
|Literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works||Author||70 years from the year end in which the author dies|
|Anonymous works||Not applicable||70 years from the year end when it was first made available|
|Sound recordings||Producer||70 years from the year end in which it was made|
|Films and videos||Producer and principal director are the authors. A film may have many copyright elements and ownership will depend on contractual agreements.||70 years from the year end in which the last of the following die: principal director, author of the screen play, author of the dialogue, composer of the music created for the film|
|Broadcasts||Provider of the transmission||50 years from the year end in which it was made|
|Typographical arrangements of published editions||Publisher||25 years from the year end of publication|
It is your responsibility to stay within the law when using photocopiers, printers, scanners, computers and edit suites within the University. In general, you can copy material if one of the following applies:
If what you are copying is less than a substantial part you can go ahead, but be very careful. The Act does not define 'substantial' and case law has determined that 'significance' as well as quantity must be taken into account.
There are 'exceptions' in the Act, which cover copying subject to 'fair dealing'.
Fair dealing requires a judgement to be made. You need to consider:
You may copy from any format of material for research and private study for non-commercial purposes provided that it is fair dealing. Contractual terms cannot override this exception. The following might be considered 'fair dealing'
Copyright is not infringed by the use of a quotation, whether for criticism or review or otherwise, provided that use complies with 'fair dealing'. Therefore, the quote must be relevant and necessary, the amount used no more than required for the purpose, and the original work acknowledged. This applies to all formats of material.
This applies to copying done for the purposes of giving or receiving instruction, including setting and answering exam questions. It applies to all formats of material. The amount must comply with 'fair dealing' and accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
If you wish to use content created by another person and re-use is not covered by a licence or legislation, you need to obtain permission from the copyright owner. A signature from them is preferable but consent by email is generally acceptable. Keep a record of this permission for as long as your work containing the re-used content is made available. If you do not get permission, you cannot use the material; a lack of response to your request does not constitute a go-ahead.
Sample permissions letters and emails can be found in the JISC Intellectual Property Rights Toolkit.
These pages are intended to provide guidance to members of Sheffield Hallam University on matters of copyright and the copying of materials for learning, teaching and research at the University. Whilst we have endeavoured to ensure the accuracy of these guidelines, they should not be construed as definitive legal opinion on such matters and should not be taken as legal advice.
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