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Copyright Guide: Media Film and Image

A practical guide on copyright and licensing issues aimed at staff, students and researchers at the University of Sussex

Media, Film and Image

Copyright! What do I need to know?

What are the copyright issues in recording a lecture?

A lecture recording may contain content created by employees, students or third parties. For content created by a lecturer (employee), copyright belongs to the employer (unless an agreement stating otherwise is in place) therefore this content can be recorded and made available as required.

Content created by a third party (e.g. students, guest lecturers or other creator) will belong, in the first instance, to the third party and permission or a licence will be required to include in a recording unless use of the material falls under a statutory exception such as fair dealing for criticism, review and quotation. See 'Copyright Guidelines for Lecture Recording' for further guidance.

The University holds a licence with the Educational Recording Agency (ERA Plus) that allows university staff to make off-air recordings of any programme broadcast on the 'free to air' televisions and radio channels made in the UK. The licence covers scheduled free to air broadcasts on:
  • BBC television and radio
  • ITV Network services (including ITV2 and ITV3)
  • Channel Four and E4
  • Five television
  • S4C
The licence does not include pay-per-view or satellite channels. Programmes may only be recorded and used for non-commercial 'educational purposes'.  The ERA Plus licence allows recordings to be accessed by students and teachers online, whether they are on campus or at home but only within the UK.

Off-air recordings can now be made through Box of Broadcasts (BoB) - an off-air recording and media service for member institutions of the British Universities Film & Video Council that hold an ERA+ licence. This TV scheduling service allows you to record TV and radio programmes that are scheduled to be broadcast over the next seven days as well as retrieving programmes from the last seven days from a selected list of recorded channels.

Following recent discussions with the BBC and Channel 4, changes have been made to the terms and conditions applicable to the access of the above channels online services. The ERA licence has been extended to cover the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4's 4onDemand service allowing recording and access to recordings of Online Services for educational purposes.

The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) provides an exception (S.34. of the Act) for showing a film for the purposes of instruction to registered staff and students of the University. Where a film is being shown at the University to an audience limited to lecturers, students or other persons directly connected with the activities of the University for the purposes of instruction, then this is covered by the CDPA.

If the audience is not limited as given above,  and the purpose of showing the film is for promotion or entertainment (e.g. an open day or film club), AND  a fee is charged,  then further permission is required. In this case, a Single Title Movie Licence is available direct  from the MPLC. If there is no fee for the showing of film, the University's  Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) Public Performance licence will cover the screening of a  film, for example in film clubs and events,   provided that the viewing takes place on the licensed premises to a closed group or members, no fee is charged and the title of the film is  not advertised to the public, then no further permission is required.   Please note that not all production companies are covered by the MPLC, therefore in some cases you may need to apply for a Single Title Movie Licence  for permission to screen a specific film. Please check the MPLC list of rightsholders represented by the MPLC.  

There will usually be more than one copyright associated with a sound recording; the composer of the music will have copyright in the music and the lyrics of a song are protected as a literary work. Duration of copyright in original musical and literary works lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which the creator dies. Additionally there is copyright in the recording itself which lasts for 50 years from the end of the year in which the sound recording was made. This is about to change. From 1st November 2013, the period of protection for sound recordings will be extended to 70 years when the Rights in Performance Regulations 2013 come into force.

Can sound recordings be copied?

The following exceptions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 apply to sound recordings:

  • Copying of all or part of a sound recording is allowed for the purposes of examination. However, this does not extend to including copyright material in portfolios or showreels that are for demonstration to an external audience.
  • Copying by the tutor for the purposes of instruction in making films or film soundtracks.
  • Fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review, providing the sources is acknowledged.

Accessing and using digital content

JISC Strategic Content Alliance (SCA) IPR and Licensing module learning object  Accessing and Using Third Party Content  provides an excellent introduction to using third party digital content.

The animation  below is copyright HEFCE, 2008 and is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivative Works 2.0 UK England and Wales licence.

Private copying and format shifting

A short video outlining the position of UK copyright law on issues such as copying, file sharing, format shifting backups and other common uses of IP. Some of these things are permitted but others are currently prohibited.

Created by Bartolomeo Meletti with support from the Department of Law at Bournemouth University.


The information contained within these pages is intended as a general guide and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Copyright Guidance for Lecture Recording

Further guidance

‚ÄčJISC Strategic Content Alliance IPR Toolkit
This IPR and Licensing module has been developed by the Strategic Content Alliance for staff working in public sector bodies to introduce them to the concepts of copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights.

A Guide to using Broadcasts for Educational purposes (Educational Recording Agency)

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC)

Finding free to use images

Getting help

 For help with general queries about copying  from print, audiovisual or electronic publications, please email