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Copyright for researchers

Intellectual Property (IP)

When using items owned or produced by others such as articles, images or patented ideas and in protection of your own research outputs it is important to know your rights and responsibilities in relation to Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright.

Copyright is one of the six main elements of Intellectual Property.  Edge Hill University has an Intellectual Property (IP) policy that can be referred to for clarification of how works produced for personal study or research purposes by the University, its Employees or Students are protected by copyright. A copy of the policy can be obtained via 

UK Copyright Law

Copyright legislation is outlined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

What is copyright?

Copyright is an automatic right in the UK it grants the creator of an original work control over how it can be used over a period of time. Copying anything without permission breaches the owner’s copyright and is illegal. Copyright protects the expression of the idea as it is recorded. The works that copyright protects are: 

  • Literary, dramatic, artistic or musical works 
  • Sound recordings, broadcasts and films  
  • Typographical arrangements of published editions  

How long does copyright last?

  • Copyright duration varies depending on the particular published work.   
  • Copyright expires in literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works 70 years after the authors death.    
  • Copyright expires in sound recordings 50 years after it was made.  
  • Copyright in films expires 70 years from the death of the last surviving contributor, principal director/producer, author of the dialogue, author of the screen plays or composer of the music  
  • Copyright in broadcasts expires 50 years after the first broadcast  
  • Copyright in typographical arrangement of published editions expires 25 years after the end of the 1st edition was published.   

Where there are multiple authors copyright duration is normally calculated from the last surviving author.  

How much can I copy for my private research?

 This comes under fair dealing.  

I am a researcher and I would like to use another author’s published book do I need to consider copyright?

Yes, it is the ideas that have been fixed within the book that are covered by copyright, it is a literary work. Also consider the duration for that particular work. In this example it is a literary work so it is under copyright up until 70 years of the authors death. Also, only copy an insubstantial amount, that which is ‘fair’.

Researchers often need to make use of copyright materials owned by third parties for research and personal study. Using other peoples’ work to photocopy, scan or download information from books, journals or websites to support your research. You may also want to include this material in your thesis or when publishing research.

The exceptions to UK copyright law allow limited use of copyright works for specific purposes without obtaining permission these are permitted acts. The amount is usually under fair dealing. Fair dealing is copying without impacting on the rights holder and only copying as much as is necessary for the purpose. The question is How would a fair minded and honest person have dealt with this work?

Research and Private Study

As a student or researcher, you can make a single copy of a short extract from a work. It covers all types of works for your own private study or non-commercial research. (If you copy an extract from a book to read for your research, you can not make multiple copies or share the extract with others.)

  • Copying is subject to fair dealing.
  • One chapter from a book
  • One article from a single issue of a journal
  • One paper from a set of conference proceedings
  • One short story or one poem, not exceeding 10 pages in length, from an anthology
  • One case from a report of a judicial proceedings

Copies for text and data analysis for non-commercial research

You need to have lawful access to the source either through a personal or institutional (university) subscription. Analysis is only for non-commercial research. Once you have established access the copying of a work is to analyse text and data, by automated/computational techniques to identify patterns and trends.

Criticism, review and quotation

The use of short extracts or quotations for the purpose of critique and review. It covers all works that have been made available to the public and the amount is in relation to fair dealing.

Illustration for instruction

All types of copyright works can be copied for the purposes of illustration when teaching. Copying must be done by the person giving or receiving instruction, be for a non-commercial purpose. The amount comes under ‘fair dealing’.

Accessible copies

Allows the creation of accessible copies of copyright works by or for a person with a disability for personal use.

I am  finalising  my PhD thesis can I include other people’s work or do I need permission from the author?

In most cases you own the intellectual property in your thesis. However, it may also contain pictures and diagrams from other works, third party materials. If your thesis contains third party materials, you must ensure that you have permission of the rights holder as your final thesis will be made available to others via your institutional repository.

I am a researcher and I want to include a picture in my journal article that I am submitting to a journal?

If you are not the copyright holder you will need to gain written permission prior to submitting to the journal. Please check the submission guidelines for the individual journal were this will be outlined, and guidance provided.

When do I need to seek permission from the copyright holder?

Seek permission from the copyright owner if you are unsure that you have permission to reuse their work in the way you intend. Usually you would need to seek permission from a rights holder if it is not covered by the fair dealing exceptions, University/Open licences.

How do I seek permission from the copyright holder?

Contact the rights holder. If it is a published work, publishers have a permissions department that will pass the request to the author contributor if necessary. For website information check the terms of use for contact information. Other works can be more complex such as film and music as there will be multiple rights holders to contact.

Include in the request:

  • A description of the material you want to use
  • How you plan to use it. (such as reproduce in print, scan, modify or adapt the work.
  • The purpose of use and where it will be used. (such as on a public website, in an article you are publishing or in your eThesis that will be openly available on an institutional repository.
  • Background information (for non-commercial purposes)

Will I have to make a payment?
You need to consider this carefully as there may be conditions or a fee in order to have permission for use. It can take a while for a response 4-6 weeks and the ideal scenario is if the rights holder grants permission freely. You can only use the work if you have permission, if you do not agree to any conditions or the fee then it can not be used. Always get confirmation in writing and keep a copy of this.

Creative Commons Licence

Many creators make their work available for reuse through a creative commons licence. When reusing the work you need to pay attention to the particular licence.

There are different types of Creative Commons licences