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Copyright: Research

Information gathering

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act has an exception which permits a certain amount of copying for the purposes of research and private study. This must be for non-commercial purposes, i.e. not done under contract in return for payment.

However, Sheffield Hallam University has a licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and this grants extra rights over and above the exception in the Act. The CLA Licence permits copying for the purpose of commercially-funded research, such as a contract or collaborative research project or consultancy.  Copies made for this purpose can be supplied to

  • members of the University's research team
  • a third-party organisation wholly (or partly) funding the research;

Copies may not be supplied to companies who are simply engaged in sponsoring studentships, fellowships, honorary posts or placements.

Certain conditions apply

  • the amount copied must not exceed that allowed under the Licence
  • copies can only be made from publications included in the licensing scheme
  • copies may only be made by SHU staff and students
  • copies, whether paper or digital, must incorporate the form of words of the Copyright Legend (statement) below, as set out in the Copyright Licensing Agency Licence

         Copyright Legend

1. The following statement must appear as part of any electronically distributed Commercial Copy:

“The following item is a copyright work which has been supplied by [Licensee] and transmitted by electronic means. The following are NOT permitted, unless

you have the permission of the copyright owner or of The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd or save as permitted by statute:

a) printing more than a single paper copy, which itself may not be further copied;

b) retransmitting the article to anybody else, other than to enable a single paper copy to be printed out by or for the individual who originally requested the item;

c) electronically storing any copy of the article.”


2. The following statement must appear as part of any Commercial Copy distributed in printed form:

“The contents of this document are copyright works and unless you have the permission of the copyright owner or of The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd or save

as may be permitted by statute may not be copied (including storage in any electronic medium) or otherwise reproduced (even for internal purposes) or resold.”

Reproducing third party materials in theses

Electronic deposit of doctoral work is now mandatory, and will soon be the only form of deposit for theses. You may wish to include third party materials in your thesis; these are materials created by someone else. One of the copyright exceptions, Inclusion for Instruction, covers use of third party materials for setting or answering exam questions, including use in theses.

If you wish to publish your thesis subsequently, including deposit in a repository, you could no longer rely on this exception to cover your use of third party materials. However, use may be covered by one of the other exceptions, e.g. Criticism, Review, Quotation and News Reporting.  If this is the case, the third party content could remain in the thesis.  

If your use isn't covered by one of the exceptions, you would either need to remove the material or seek permission to use it.  However, permission is not required if

Identifying the rightsholder may be difficult but a good place to start is with the publisher.  Request written permission stating the precise details of the materials you wish to use and how they will be used. Keep a copy of any letters or emails received from the rightsholders and, if permission is granted, indicate this in your thesis.

Open access

Disseminating research outputs is essential to the success of the institution and its researchers. However, it is important that copyright law as well as licences or conditions agreed with publishers, funding agencies and other parties are taken into account.

Publishers often allow you to self-archive a version of your article in an open access repository after an embargo period. This is normally the final post-peer review version, but not the publisher's PDF. Use SHERPA/RoMEO, a searchable database of publisher copyright and self-archiving policies, to check which version of your article can be archived and when. 

Text and data mining

Text and data mining is the use of automated analytical techniques to analyse text and data for patterns, trends and other useful information. This usually requires copying of the work to be analysed. The Text and Data Mining (s.29A) exception allows researchers to copy for this purpose if they have legal access to the work. The exception only applies to non commercial research. Sufficient acknowledgment should be made but if impractical to do so, for example in a large scale analysis, the researcher could refer to the database in which the works are contained. This exception cannot to overridden by contract.


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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