Library and Learning Services

Copyright policy

Copyright is the legal protection for an author, or creator, which restricts the copying of an original work they have created. In the UK copyright is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

Copyright in most types of work lasts for 70 years after the death of an author/creator(s) and copyright ownership can be transferred, bought and sold (for example to a publisher). Copyrighted works include original written, dramatic, artistic or musical works; sound recordings, films and broadcasts; computer programs, websites and databases; and the typographical arrangement of published editions. Ideas are not subject to copyright until they are put into some tangible form (for example a poem or a performance)

Works where the author, or creator, are not known or cannot be traced are called orphan works.  They are likely to still be in copyright if they were published or created less than 70 years ago. 

UK copyright law limits the amount of material that can legally be copied. One copy of a copyrighted work can usually be made or downloaded for private study or research. This can be retained in print, or electronically, but cannot be made accessible to others unless it has been openly licensed for reuse, for example via a creative commons licence, or is published and out of copyright. 

Photocopying and scanning by University of Leicester staff and students of published content (e.g. books chapters and journal articles) for purposes other than private study or research is governed by the Copyright Licence Agency (CLA) Higher Education Licence. Use of films and broadcasts (TV and Radio) are governed by the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) licence.  There are also copyright exceptions that permit certain uses of film in an educational setting. Reuse of newspaper content is governed by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) Education Establishment licence. 

Subject to licence coverage and limits, it is possible to provide copies of chapters or articles for teaching and these should be requested through an online reading lists using readinglists at Leicester. Copying to support commercial activity may require additional permissions.

Infringement of copyright is an offense and is taken seriously when it occurs. Infringement would include the posting of any University owned teaching materials onto third party sites without the specific permission of the University. Such copying would be in breach of UK copyright law, the University copyright policy and may be considered a breach of staff and student conduct regulations.

Licensing agreements

The University Library provides access to many electronic journals, books and databases. These are supplied subject to licence agreements with individual publishers. The terms and conditions of each publisher must be followed.  

Further advice

University of Leicester Staff and Students should contact for further advice, or if you have any queries regarding your intended use of copyrighted works.

Last revised: November 2020

Review date: November 2024

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