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Copyright: Licences & exceptions

Guidance and tips on making copyright law work for you in your University teaching and study.

CLA HE Copyright Licence

The University's Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) HE Licence provides, subject to conditions, for the making of multiple copies of extracts from certain published works - including book chapters and journal articles - for the educational use of staff and students.

The licence covers most printed UK books, journals and magazines plus many titles published overseas, as well as a large number of digital publications. Several categories of work are excluded from the licence, including maps, music, and newspapers.

Further information

See the other tabs and links in this box for important details on making and sharing copies of published works under the CLA HE licence.

Who may make copies?

Digital copies, whether made by scanning from print or copying digital publications, must be requested via the Library and made by members of Library staff specifically trained in this role. This is to ensure compliance with the licence's strict terms as to the creation, storage and reporting of digital copies. Use the link below to access full details of the Library's digital scanning support service.

Failure to comply with the terms of the licence would be highly likely to result in the creation of infringing copies, in breach of copyright and/or an author’s moral rights.

Photocopies of materials covered by the licence can be made by all staff and students. Copying of this type does not need to be recorded, as royalties data is sampled via occasional data collection exercises instead. The University of Reading last participated in a mandatory data collection exercise during the 2017/18 session.

Who may copies be given to?

Digital copies for course use must always be securely hosted on the Talis Aspire online reading lists platform, even if accessed via Blackboard. It is not permissible to upload scans directly to a Blackboard course area.

Up to one photocopy per registered student and teaching staff member may be handed out for course use, or included in hard copy course packs or study packs.

The University's licence extends to distance learners registered at the Reading campus but does not extend to any students taught through the Malaysia campus.

What material can be copied under the licence?

Determining whether any given publication is covered by the licence can be somewhat complicated, depending on the type of work, format (print or digital) and country of publication. However, the CLA has created an online search tool for checking permissions under its licences, available via the link below.

As a general statement, all print books, journals, magazines, law reports and conference proceedings published in the UK can be copied from, unless specifically excluded. Print publications from a range of foreign countries are also covered, again subject to individual exclusion. Many digital publications are also covered, generally on an opt-in basis rather than the opt-out scheme for printed publications.

In addition to individual works specifically excluded, some types of published works are not covered by the licence:

  • printed music (including lyrics)
  • maps and charts
  • newspapers (see the NLA licence for permissions)
  • workbooks, workcards or assignment sheets 

To assist in working out whether a particular publication can be copied from, and what form those copies can take, use the CLA's 'Check Permissions' tool.

Source copy

As a condition of the licence, generally the University must itself own or subscribe to the publication from which the copy is made. This will usually but not exclusively mean material available through the Library. This requirement means copies owned by individual staff members cannot be used as the basis for copies except in exceptional circumstances, such as a publication being very old and no longer available to purchase, including second-hand.

Copying limits

Up to the following can be legally copied under the licence:

The greater of 10% of the total publication or:

  • One whole chapter if a book
  • One whole article if a journal issue
  • One short story, poem or play (not exceeding 10 pages in length) if an anthology
  • One whole scene if a play
  • One whole paper if a set of conference proceedings
  • One whole report of a single case if a volume of judicial proceedings

Copyright Exceptions

In addition to the educational copying activity permitted only under licence – such as distributing articles and chapters to students, or recording television programmes to show in class – more minor acts of copying and reuse can be permissible under copyright exceptions provided by law. These provisions apply only in certain circumstances but recognise that producing, using and distributing teaching and learning materials sometimes involves copying that should not depend on a licence agreement.

UK copyright exceptions permit limited reuse in some specific instances, subject to a test of ‘fair dealing’. The extent to which a fair dealing copyright exception will apply is context-specific and depends on the facts of the case. However, the use cannot be excessive or considered to conflict unduly with the interests of the copyright owner (e.g. by replacing a sale of a work). Reliance on fair dealing exceptions almost always requires accompanying acknowledgement of the creator and source.

Two such exceptions of particular relevance for teaching uses are ‘criticism, review and quotation’ and ‘illustration for instruction’.

Criticism, review and quotation

The criticism and review exception permits limited reuse of protected, published material for the purposes of facilitating direct, germane critique. For example, it may be permissible to reproduce a photograph if it is necessary to refer to specific visual elements in an accompanying commentary. Don’t forget that the assessment of ‘fair dealing’ is context-specific: you must always be guided by considering whether an independent ‘fair-minded and honest person’ would agree with your approach. It might be harder to demonstrate ‘fair dealing’ with a high-resolution commercial stock photograph, than with a low-resolution copy of an image for which the rights owner would not normally expect to charge reproduction fees.

The provision for quotation specifically – which does not require accompanying critique – is rather more restrictive and generally permits reproduction of only a limited portion of a published work (so would only permit reproduction of a whole photograph in exceptional circumstances). It is not permissible to quote more than is required by your specific purpose, or to quote long extracts without permission. However, this exception certainly permits the use of attributed quotations from published works in handouts or course packs, for example.

It is not fair dealing to quote (whether for criticism, review or otherwise) if the source material has not been made available to the public, or if you fail to include appropriate attribution (unless doing so is impossible – e.g. for an anonymous work).

Illustration for Instruction

This exception applies to non-commercial teaching uses, specifically (whether taking place on University premises or elsewhere, or in recorded lectures delivered remotely via a secure Virtual Learning Environment). Generally, extracts of material (including text, images and video) can be reproduced under this exception in lecture slides, or otherwise used during a teaching session, for the sole purpose of illustrating a teaching point. Again, accompanying acknowledgement of the work and the creator is always required, unless doing so is ‘impossible’.

Note that this exception does not permit aesthetic uses, nor uses that are removed from the act of teaching. For example, it is permissible to display an image of a painting, or the text of a poem, in the course of your teaching – but it is unlikely to be permissible to distribute multiple copies of that painting or poem, without recourse to a licence.

Always credit the creator and source

In practice there is a high degree of overlap between the ‘criticism, review and quotation’ exception and the ‘illustration for instruction’ exception, so lecturers should not be too concerned about which exception might apply. The crucial point is to always include sufficient acknowledgement of the author/creator and the source of every extract or image you have used: if you fail to do this, it is likely that neither exception will apply, so your use will be infringing.

ERA Licence for recording broadcasts

The Educational Recording Agency (ERA) provides a licence which allows recordings to be made of television, radio and Internet broadcasts for educational purposes.

Free to air programmes, for example any broadcast on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Freeview channels (including Open University programmes) are covered by the license. These guidelines are adapted from the ERA web pages.

Further information

See the other tabs and links in this box for information on making recordings under the licence.

Using recordings made under the ERA Licence
  • Recordings can be uploaded to YuJa and embedded within a secure Virtual Learning Environment (e.g. Blackboard) for access by students off-campus. This only applies to students within the UK - it is not permitted to make ERA recordings available to distance learners outside the UK, or to students at overseas campuses.
  • Recordings can be lent out for home use to University members.
  • Recordings may only be watched by members of the University for non-commercial educational purposes and cannot be used for promotional or entertainment purposes.
  • Recordings made available to students via the VLE must be accompanied by acknowledgement of the name of the programme and source of the recording, and the wording: 'This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence'.
Keeping recordings

Recordings can be retained indefinitely. There are no record-keeping requirements at present.

Accessing TV & radio programmes online

The easiest way to get this content is via Box of Broadcasts (BoB) - record TV and radio programmes or watch over 2 million previously recorded programmes, all available immediately.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is a streaming service and requires an internet connection. If you need a hard copy of a programme, on DVD for example, you  can either make the recording from the live broadcast or contact the Library's Multimedia manager who may be able to source a copy.

Using on-demand services
  • You may access and download content from on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player, Demand 5 and Clic (S4C) in a similar way to personal private users, and use it in your teaching
  • Making a copy of the downloaded content is not permitted unless specifically allowed by the on-demand service you are using - check individual terms and conditions

Be aware that the majority of on-demand content will only be available to you for a limited time - if you want to use it for an ongoing period it is better to use Box of Broadcasts (BoB).

Making a hard copy recording
  • Recordings can be made on University premises, or at home, by teaching staff or their auxiliaries. 
  • Extracts can be recorded from different programmes to create a compilation.
  • Recordings made under the licence must be labelled on the case and the disc itself with the following:
    - Date when the recording was made
    - Name of the broadcaster
    - Programme title
    - The wording 'This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence.'
  • Multiple copies can be made as long as all the terms of the licence are complied with.

If you want to obtain a recording of a programme contact the Library's Multimedia Manager with the programme details

NLA Licence for copying newspaper articles

Copying from newspapers for teaching purposes is governed by the terms of the University's NLA Education Establishment Licence. This permits occasional photocopying and scanning of newspaper articles (and photographs, advertisements and other excerpted content) from the print edition of papers included in the NLA repertoire and the digital copying and printing of individual articles from some newspaper websites.

  1. Is it necessary to copy, or can I link to the content instead? The article might be accessible online already (including via Library subscriptions).
  2. Am I copying directly from a print newspaper or newspaper website, included in the NLA repertoire? If unsure, contact
  3. Am I copying a particular article, report, advertisement or other item, for educational purposes? If not, contact
  4. Have I included the specified ‘NLA licensed copy’ notice in full – and made no further alterations?
  5. Have I emailed identifying the material copied, the module for which it is being used and the number of students, to meet the record-keeping requirements?
Further information

See the other tabs in this box for further information on accessing, sharing, and making use of newspaper article copies.

Who may copy?

Photocopying, scanning and digital copying under the NLA Licence may be carried out by any member of staff as long as the licence conditions, including the record-keeping requirements detailed below, are observed.

Note that this applies to copying from eligible newspaper publications only: digital copying from books and journals is governed by the terms of the separate CLA Higher Education Licence and must be requested via the Library to comply with those separate CLA Licence terms.

How can copies be shared?

Paper copies may be handed out to registered students during teaching, or included in hard copy course packs or study packs made available at our campuses in the UK and Malaysia. A maximum of one copy per student is permitted.  Copies may also be projected on screen during lectures and seminars.

Digital copies may be provided via online reading lists on the Talis Aspire platform, or hosted directly on a module’s restricted Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard). Again, please note that this applies only to the ad hoc scanning or digital copying of some newspaper articles and not to the provision of any material from books and journals under the University’s CLA Licence, which must always be hosted on the Talis Aspire platform (even if accessed via Blackboard).

To comply with clause 5.5 of the NLA Licence, all copies (however distributed) must include the notice: ‘NLA licensed copy. No further copies may be made except under licence’. No other alterations may be made.

What records must be kept?

To comply with clause 5.9 of the NLA Licence, any member of staff photocopying from a newspaper must email with the following information:

  • details of the material copied
  • the module for which the copy is being used
  • number of students receiving a copy.
Which newspapers are covered by the NLA Licence?

The following UK national newspapers (including pull-out supplements) and, where listed, newspaper websites are included under our licence:

  • Evening Standard |
  • Daily Express & Sunday Express |
  • Financial Times [NO SCANNING / DIGITAL COPYING - see note below]
  • The Guardian & The Observer |
  • i | 
  • Daily Mail & Mail on Sunday |
  • Daily Mirror & Sunday Mirror |
  • Sunday People
  • Daily Star & Daily Star Sunday |
  • The Sun |
  • Daily Telegraph & Sunday Telegraph |
  • The Times & Sunday Times |

Note that no scanning or digital copying from the Financial Times – and no copying from – is permitted under the NLA Licence. The Financial Times Limited license use of digital cuttings directly; for more information, see the FT's copyright policy. For alternative access link instead to online content via Library subscriptions - search the FT using this link:

30 regional titles, including:

  • The Reading Chronicle

Five foreign newspapers (photocopying/scanning from print editions only):

  • Irish Examiner
  • Irish Independent
  • Irish Times
  • New York Times International Edition
  • Wall Street Journal Europe
Making copies

It is only permissible to copy directly from the original print newspaper or eligible newspaper website; not from versions accessed via Library subscription databases like ProQuest News & Newspapers or LexisLibrary.

The NLA Licence should be used for ad hoc copying – where it is helpful to provide a specific article to students enrolled on a specific module for a specific teaching purpose. Photocopies at the original size may be made on plain paper or otherwise to enable projection onto a screen. Artistic works, including third party advertisements appearing with the article, may be copied. Scans must not be digitally altered unless strictly necessary for a pedagogical purpose.

Remember, each copy must include the following notice:

  • NLA licensed copy. No further copies may be made except under licence.
Copying limits

The NLA Licence must not be used for systematic copying, commercial copying or archival copying. Copies must not be shared externally; distributed copies may not be further copied by the recipient or otherwise shared or reused by any person who is not employed by the University or is not a fellow student.

Where possible (i.e. not restricted by technological protection methods such as paywalls), it is likely to be preferable to simply link to an article hosted on a newspaper website, rather than distributing copies under the NLA Licence.