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Copyright Guide: In Teaching

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


The Copyright in Education online tutorial below is aimed at course tutors that are new to teaching,  PGCERT HE candidates or just as a refresher on copyright law as it applies to using content in education. The tutorial covers key copyright issues involved in making content, both from printed works or online, available to students on a module you are teaching. It also covers the use of Creative Commons licences and using copyright material in presentations, social media and publishing.

Other resources on this page provide examples of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act (CDPA) 1988 exceptions that allow for using limited extracts from copyright works in teaching. 

'Fair Dealing' is a term that frequently applies to the copyright exceptions and how this term is interpreted by copyright law is given below. 

If the reading list for a module that you are teaching on includes references to a particular chapter from print books held in the Library, the Library Digitisation Service can scan the chapter for you and link it to the online reading list. See below for futrher details of this service. 

Copyright for Education

Photo of books about copyright law

Access the Copyright for Education Online Tutorial 

The copyright tutorial is structured around five different topics that you can select from the Contents page:

  1. Copyright law
  2. Adding content to Study Direct
  3. Digitising course materials
  4. Creative Commons licences
  5. Presentations, social media and publishing

Each section contains guidance on interpreting copyright law and licences, interactive quizzes and links to key online resources for copyright information.  At the end of each topic, there is the option to continue on to the next section or return to the Contents page and select a different one.  If you do have any copyright questions arising from the tutorial please contact Annette Moore in the Library. 

Fair Dealing

Certain exceptions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 only apply if the use of the work is a 'fair dealing';  for example the exceptions relating to  Illustration for Instruction (s.32), Quotation (s.30) and Parody (s.30A). 

'Fair Dealing' is a legal term used to establish whether a use of a copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright.  There is no statutory definition of fair dealing, instead each individual use has to be looked at within the specific circumstances. The question to be asked is: 'how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work'?  

There  are some general factors to consider:

  • Is the amount of the work to be copied reasonable and appropriate to the purpose?  Usually only part of a work may be used.
  • Does using the work affect the market for the original work? If a use of a work acts as a substitute for it and competes with the copyright owner's exploitation of the work,  for instant by evading purchase of a legitimate copy,  then it is unlikely to be considered fair.
  • Has sufficient acknowledgement been given?  Acknowledgement should identify the work by its title as well as  the author of the work.
  • Has the copyright owner made the work freely available to the public? Fair dealing does not apply to works that have not been made available to the public on the grounds that it would be unfair to the author.


Digitising course readings

Although the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act includes an exception for limited 'Copying of extracts from works' (s.36) for the purposes of instruction for a non-commerical purpose, this exception does not apply where a collective licence is available. Consequently, where a chapter from a book is on a  module's reading list and is required as a digitised copy, this must be done with reference to the Copyright Licensing Agency's HE Licence

The University holds a licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) that grants permission for  photocopying or scanning from print material and re-use of digital material for use in teaching, subject to certain limits and restrictions.   The Library provides a digitisation service through the Reading List System and we will either scan the item internally or obtain a copyright fee-paid copy from the British Library  and link the digitised chapter to the online reading list. The Licence is complex but  we are usually able to reproduce either a single chapter from a book or a single article from a journal for use by students registered on a particular module. In the case of various extracts from a book, the licence now allows up to 10% of the work to  be copied (as from 1st August 2016). 

The Licence is subject to individual publisher agreements with the CLA. Check the CLA Title Search to see whether a publication is covered by the Licence for the intended use (photocopying, scanning or re-use of digital material).

Limits of the Licence

Up to the following may be copied under the Licence:

  • One whole chapter from a book
  • One whole article from a journal issue
  • One short story, poem or play (not exceeding 10 pages in length) from an anthology
  • One whole paper from a set of conference proceedings
  • One whole report of a single case from a volume of judicial proceedings
  • or 10% of a book, journal issue or anthology, whichever is the greater.

Getting help

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


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

Copyright Exceptions of use in Education

Quotation (s.30)  -  extends the existing exception for  fair dealing for criticism,  review and news reporting allowing a greater use of short quotations from copyright works,  for illustrative purposes, as long as the use is reasonable and  fair .   This makes it easier to use short extracts from in-copyright works in teaching and learning, in lecture presentations as well as within  Study Direct. 

Illustration for instruction (s.32)   - broadened to include all types of copyright works, including films and sound recordings.  This exception covers 'Fair Dealing' copying  with a work for the purpose of giving or receiving instruction, provided it is for a non-commercial purpose and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.  This includes setting exam questions, communicating the questions to students and answering the questions.  Contract terms will not override this exception.

Recording of broadcasts (s.35) -  For  recordings of broadcasts  not covered by the Education Recording Agency (ERA) Licence,  s.35 now permits access by a secure electronic network to students and staff based in the UK.  The new provisions continue to provide that the recording and use of copies of recordings of broadcasts (including radio and television broadcasts) are subject to the terms of ERA Licence. 

Parody, caricature and pastiche (s.30A)  - A new fair dealing  exception for copying from copyright works for the  purposes of parody, caricature and pastiche allows greater freedom to use copyright works for creating and publishing user-generated  content online

Copying of extracts from works (s.36) - the limit of copying extracts of works by educational establishments  has been raised to 5% of a work within a 12 month period.  This now applies to all types of copyright work but only if a collective licence, such as the CLA HE Licence, is not available.  Although useful for copying extracts from films or sound recordings, multiple copying or scanning from literary works can only be done under the CLA HE Licence. 

Further guidance