The copyright guidance below for persons placing content on a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a useful resource for staff wishing to stay within the law and adhere to guidance relating to copyright at the University of Ulster.

The information on this page is solely for students and members of staff at the University of Ulster.

The new PDF guide available below 'Copyright for Teaching' should be read by anyone wishing to add information onto the VLE.

Staff should also be aware that a training package on copyright exists on the homepage of the VLE. Please read through this before placing material on the VLE (WebCT).

If you wish to have material scanned and placed on the VLE you must use the Scanning Service available from the Library.

Contact your subject librarian. See Library Scanning Service

Page last updated: 13 February 2015

Here are some SIGNPOSTS. Fuller explanation will be found on the copyright site and within the VLE training package mentioned above.

Other websites

All material which appears on websites is subject to copyright. It is best to operate on the basis that there is no implied licence to copy. Many websites will have a section indicating what can and cannot be done with the material they display. See their Terms of Use.

If the copying you seek is not covered in the copyright notice ask for permission by contacting the webmaster.
It is acceptable to apply fair dealing i.e. downloading for personal use only. Any re-publication or multiple copying or placing on a network would not be fair dealing.


If creating a link from one web site to another the links should best go to a site’s homepage. If a deeper link is given it needs to be made clear to the user that they are leaving one site and entering another.

Scanned copies by an individual

Should not be put on a shared drive.
Should not be put on a computer network.
Should not be put on an intranet.
Should not be sent out as an email attachment.
Should not be put on a discussion list or website.

All of these equate to multiple copying and are not permitted under fair dealing.
Altering the scanned copy in any way would be infringing the author’s moral right of integrity.
Any communal hard disk should be wiped clean periodically.

If you see an image you wish to download from a website ...

You may download under the fair dealing exception for research or private study for non-commercial purposes.
You may make only one single print-out under this exception.
You may not distribute that copy to other people.
Otherwise you will need permission or a licence.
Many websites will have copyright statements indicating terms of use of the material they contain. Read this for what permissions may be allowed.
If the website does not allow you to do what you wish you must abide by their terms of use.
It is possible to cite a reference or provide a link to the website.

Placing images on a website or in a PowerPoint presentation ...

No image or part of an image should be scanned and placed in any teaching module without first securing the permission of the copyright owner.
Images include graphs, tables, photographs, diagrams, pie charts and paintings. You are advised to visit for help in finding images and in developing search strategies for illustrative material. Many database references are given. Often there will still be restrictions on how the image may be used.

You may also wish to visit where you can use the advanced search functionality specifying the tags you want to be searched. There are more than 60 million photographs available under Creative Commons licences on Flickr.
Also, on Google use the advanced search option, scroll down to Date and Usage Rights, and click as wished to locate material which is free to use or share. Verify from the original the conditions of use.

So, is placing an image on a website or in a PowerPoint presentation acceptable?

Yes, if you obtain the permission of the copyright owner if the image is still in copyright.
Yes, if the image is no longer in copyright.
Yes, if the University has a licence which covers exactly what you want to do.
Yes, if you are using the image for the fair dealing purposes of criticism or review. It is advisable not to copy a whole artistic work in order to criticise or review it.
Otherwise, what you intend is NOT acceptable.

If the image contains people, then under privacy law they should not be able to be identified, unless they have given their permission for their image to be used.
If placing the image copy on the web, it is best if it is in a lower resolution.

The copyright position in regard to the electronic journals held in the LRC at the University of Ulster ...

The copyright position is set out in the terms of the specific licence(s) for the electronic journals rather than being governed by general copyright law.

So, only single copies may be downloaded.

In regard to the electronic journals, in most cases, it is permitted to download as many articles as you like from a single issue. Verify from the original the conditions of use.

Placing a DVD on to a network ...

This would require the rightsholder’s permission.

You should obtain a licence either directly or through a licensing society.

Contact the Motion Picture Licensing Company,

As I wrote this article, I am therefore able to put it on an intranet or internet ...

Not necessarily so. Did you sign all of the copyright to the publisher?
If you did then the publisher is the rightsholder.
Possibly you have reserved some rights for yourself.
The publisher may permit the author to continue to use their work if it is for a non-commercial purpose and acknowledgement is made.


Alternatives, whilst keeping within the law, to obtaining permissions for the use of copyright material ...

Use material which is out of copyright.

Use material which is made freely available to the public.

Create web links to material which is legally available on the internet but which does not permit copying. Direct the user to the home page of the site.

Provide references to copyright work rather than reproducing the works.

How vital is the use of the particular item you are considering?

Are there copyright-free alternatives?

Identify only one or two items of copyright work and seek permission for them

On using student material by placing it on a VLE

Unless you have the permission of the student to do so this will infringe the copyright of the student.
Students own the copyright in the material they produce.
(The exception is the DPhil level student who will have assigned their copyright to the University in writing, but who should nonetheless be consulted before proceeding).
Care is further needed in using student generated material since the student may have included the work of third parties without seeking permission.

On using, possibly with adaptations, a questionnaire at the back of a textbook

Since adaptation is a restricted act you should seek a positive answer from one of the following.

Check if the author specifies in the book itself how the questionnaire may be used.

Check with your subject librarian if the item may be scanned.

Seek permission from the publisher.

Fair Dealing for Criticism and review

Anyone may copy from any type of work for the purpose of criticising or reviewing a work without infringing copyright. There are two conditions: the work must have been lawfully made available to the public and the work must be sufficiently acknowledged. Reviews are by their nature expected to be published. However, there may be difficulty in establishing whether publishing on the web is fair.

It is therefore advisable that you do NOT copy a whole artistic work in order to criticise or review it, or that you use low resolution in the case of reproducing an image.

Any extract for which you wished to use the defence of criticism and review should not be for mere illustration, and the criticism and review should be substantially longer than the extract itself.

A work is not reviewed or criticised where it is merely reproduced without comment, where it is merely explained, or where it is reproduced in a different form.

There is no fair dealing for criticism and review for an unpublished work.

Using material found on YouTube for teaching purposes?

Many clips on YouTube are placed there illegally, without the permission of copyright holders. You should therefore avoid downloading, streaming or even embedding material from YouTube without the permission of the rights holders.

It is possible to make third party material available to students by providing a link. Students can click on that link and view the material directly for themselves. However, in the case of material that appears likely to be infringing such as feature film, TV, music, advertising-clips you are advised that it is still best not to link at all.

Format shifting

Copying a file into another format is known as format shifting.
Format shifting is illegal under UK copyright law.

So, if you do not have licence or permission

Copying a CD or DVD to another format is illegal.
Copying a CD or DVD to a computer is illegal.
Copying a CD or DVD to an ipod, mobile phone or any other mobile device is illegal.

Even after you have purchased a copyrighted work you do not have the automatic right to copy the work onto another device or adapt the work, regardless of whether it is for personal use or non-commercial purposes.

Some fallacies

It is NOT correct to say
The copyright has not been infringed because I acknowledged the source.
Attribution does not absolve you of the need to seek permission, or to copy under licence, or under one of the statutory exceptions.

It is NOT correct to say
If there is no copyright symbol then it is not in copyright.

It is NOT correct to say
I can place a copy of someone else’s work on my website because
(a) I am not charging people; or
(b) It is for educational purposes;
There is no blanket exception for education; or
(c) The copyright owner will never find out. I am quite anonymous.
Rights owners have detected copyright breaches at the University of Ulster.

When requesting copyright permission

Provide the following information

Always specify what you intend to do with the material and include such details as:

Are you prepared to pay for permission? What sort of a budget is available?

Do not assume if you don’t receive a response that you can go ahead.

More than Liability

Liability isn’t the only potential consequence of having infringing material on a password protected VLE. These are other real outcomes.

Learning materials having to be withdrawn at inopportune moments.

Quality inspections questioning the inclusion of infringing materials and making an adverse judgment as a result.

Loss of trust with licensors of material when there’s been discovery of infringing use

Frustration when a good resource cannot be disseminated or shared because it is full of infringing material.

The time-consuming effort to go back and clear historical infringing materials when needs and circumstances change.

Setting a bad example – one college had a problem with marketing students ending up causing their eventual employers headaches because the habit of trawling the internet and lifting everything thought to be useful without regard had been encouraged as a way of finding resources during their course.

For further information/useful links

See the copyright package on the home page of the VLE

Visit the University’s copyright website
Note especially the extensive list of FAQ’s

For the Scanning Service available from the Library. Contact your subject librarian.

For images you are advised to visit
For images visit
For images on Google use the advanced search option, scroll down to Date and Usage Rights.

To check publishers’ copyright policies use

For film licensing visit

To play music or a sound recording in public see and See the FAQ on the Copyright website

For creative commons licences see See the FAQ on the Copyright website.

To access free online learning and teaching resources created and contributed by UK universities and colleges visit JorumOpen observing the terms and conditions of use as specified in the resource’s creative commons licence and Jorum’s Terms of Service.

For general information see Then search under Legal Areas.

Contact the University’s Copyright Officer,

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning Copyright for University Staff and Students

Our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a useful reference resource for staff and students wishing to stay within the law and adhere to guidance relating to copyright at the University of Ulster. The information on this page is solely for students and members of staff at the University of Ulster.

Copyright guidance and reference for University Staff and Students

Current students and members of staff must comply with the University Copyright Policy. Guidance has been developed by the Copyright Management Group to ensure compliance. This web resource contains information and guidance relating to the legal use of library resources, scanning, use of images and many other aspects of copyright compliance.

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