Copyright and your teaching

Last updated 16th September 2020

It is a common misconception that 'educational use' applies to uses of copyright works in a teaching context

The bad news is this is a myth.

The good news: there are other ways to ensure that use of copyright material for teaching and learning purposes is legally compliant, sustainable, and fair.

Here you will find guidance on use of copyright material in your teaching, including books and journals, and audiovisual materials such as images, music, and film.

There are copyright exceptions which specifically cover teaching contexts. These are quite narrowly defined in terms of purpose and scope. Broadly speaking, there are exceptions which cover:

  • Use of material to illustrate a teaching point
  • Use of material for the purpose of an examination (including dissertations and theses)
  • Copying a small amount of a published work for classroom use
  • Showing a film in an educational setting

Full details can be seen at our exceptions guide.

Our licences guide includes information about blanket licences and open licences that can assist with teaching and learning use.

There is also more information on our Library Teach page

You can contact us at

Student Coursework Sites

What are coursework sites?

Coursework sites such as Studydrive, StuDocu and CourseHERO encourage students to share course materials such as lecture notes, assignments, lab reports and exam questions.

Is it okay for students to upload materials to these sites?

Students should not be uploading course material provided to them as part of their studies. The copyright and IP of such materials is usually owned by the University, and this activity also poses a potential risk to personal data. Students uploading their own material or using material uploaded by other students is not actually a copyright infringement but they should be aware that doing so may result in Turnitin flagging up possible plagiarism.

If I find any of my course materials on one of these sites can I ask for it to be removed?

Posting materials generated by University of Sheffield staff without permission is an infringement of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, So yes, you can issue a take down notice. Procedures for this will differ from site to site.

CourseHero - use this link - Submit Takedown Request.
StuDocu - use this link -
Study Drive - send an email using the following text to -
Dear Study Drive,
The included links are to course content produced by the University of Sheffield that has been uploaded to your website, including lecture slides and lecture notes. This material is the copyright of the University of Sheffield. We have not granted permission for this material to be shared and therefore request that you remove the infringing material from your website.
I am authorised to represent the owner of intellectual property rights in the protected material.
The information contained in this notice is accurate and I believe, with good faith, that the publication, distribution and reproduction of the material described is not authorised by the rightsholder, the rightsholder’s agent or the law.

Infringing material - [include urls of infringing material here]


Copyright and remote delivery

Am I permitted to scan extracts from a print book I have at home and share it with my students?

This should be possible, but do get in touch with us first so that we can advise on how much you can make available and assist you with any practicalities with scanning and making the chapter available. Additionally, we may be able to source an ebook or additional chapters as things are changing fast in this area. Please email who will discuss your options. The Library will make the digitised reading available on your resource list.

Has copyright legislation changed at all or been relaxed in the light of COVID-19 and remote learning?

Copyright legislation has not changed, so it is important to be aware of what you can and can’t do, especially as the shift to remote delivery can mean that reused content is more visible. However, the Copyright & Licensing Team are keeping up-to-date with sector initiatives that assist University staff and students to get the most out of access to essential resources at this time. Further information will be communicated via these webpages, and our ‘Copyright and your teaching’ webinars [book here].

How can the CLA Licence help me to make resources available?

Our Higher Education Copyright Licence allows us to digitise up to 10% or one chapter from a book whichever is the greater or one article from a journal. This applies to material published by participating publishers only. Please contact to discuss your options.

Is it possible to make films available on Blackboard?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can treat Blackboard as a classroom in order to play film and other multimedia. However, if recording or uploading the work for viewing later, ensure that you used licensed content, or that a copyright exception applies. You can use clips under fair dealing and the copyright exception ‘Illustration for Instruction’ (see our Table of Exceptions using the Useful Links on the right). Do remember that we have Box of Broadcasts which includes lots of films and TV and radio. You can provide links to programmes from there and also create clips for embedding in your teaching. We also have several music databases (see Useful Links) that you can use in your teaching too.  Additional advice available on our updated webpage.

My students cannot get access to resources overseas.  What are the options? It will depend upon the type of material and how you wish to make it available. For book chapters and journal articles, please use the book request form or email to discuss your options.
If the issues are with blocked content, such as websites and multimedia content, then you may be able to copy small amounts and make them available under section 32 copyright exception. We recommend using Leganto where possible.


Copyright: General FAQs

How much of a print book or journal can I legally copy?

For 'classroom purposes', i.e. making multiple copies for teaching, the copying is done under the auspices of the CLA Licence. This permits copying 1 chapter, or 10%, of a book or journal - whichever is the greater. You can check if a title is covered by the CLA Licence by using their Check Permissions tool (change the licence type to Higher Education).
The CLA Licence excludes copying from “Workbooks”. However, some publishers are prepared to let you copy material from their publications subject to the limits mentioned above, so it is important to use the Check Permissions tool for this type of material.
Copying other material and for other purposes may be covered under an exception in UK law. See our Exceptions webpage.

What if I need more than these limits?

Technically, you would need permission from the publishers. However, for scanned material, we may be able to make a second extract request for an additional copyright fee. For more information see the Programme resources page (Useful Links).
If the book is vital core reading, you may wish to use the Book recommendation form (see Useful Links) to request an e-book if available. For more information about requesting resources see the Programme resources page (Useful Links).

Can I make a scanned copy of a print journal article or book chapter available for my students?

If you would like to make a chapter/article from a key reading available digitally to your students, please email who will discuss your options.
The library will make the digitised reading available on your resource list and report the scanning to the Copyright Licensing Agency. This is a requirement of our copyright licence.

Can I copy an electronic journal/book/newspaper?  Can I put it on Blackboard for my students?

The best option is to add the link to Blackboard. You can create a stable URL by using the 'Permalink' feature within the item record on StarPlus.

Can I make photocopies of an article from a print newspaper for my students? Under the terms of our Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) Licence, you can make up to 250 photocopies of any article for inclusion in students' study packs. You can check if the particular newspaper is covered by our licence by using the Check Permissions tool don't forget to change the licence type to Higher Education).
Can I include copyright material in exam questions? You can use copyright material in examinations under copyright exception 32, illustration for instruction. Don't forget that this is subject to fair dealing: more details can be found on our webpage - see Useful Links.
Can I adapt a copyright content e.g. journal articles, book pages, for teaching purposes?  Such as simplifying the words, creating a gap-fill activity, changing the style or format for aesthetic reasons or so they fit onto A4 sized paper? You can adapt extracts (e.g. shorten/annotate them), but any adaptation must be entirely for pedagogical purposes and not detrimental to the moral rights of the author and/or visual creator. A fuller explanation is available on p.9 of the CLA Licence User Guidelines: see Useful Links.
Streaming Films Advice on streaming films is now available.  See our new webpage


Using images and other multi-media FAQs

Can I include any images or photographs in my teaching materials?

Yes. There are several ways of achieving this. We recommend that you use public domain or openly licensed images where possible. See Using images: see Useful Links for a list of sources.
For any other images you may be able to make use of copyright exceptions (see Useful Links). You may also use disembedded images from books which are covered under the CLA Licence.

Can I include a TV or radio broadcast in my lesson?

We have a subscription to Box of Broadcasts (BoB) which is an on-demand TV and radio service for education. BoB is provided through our Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence. Staff and students can search an extensive archive, compile playlists, record programmes, and create clips. You can embed these into your lectures, and subsequently make these available through Blackboard. Link to BoB available on right.

Can I include YouTube clips in my lessons and make them available through Blackboard?

Take care doing this. Material on YouTube may have been uploaded without the consent of the copyright holder - so always check. You can include clips in your lesson under a fair dealing exception (such as illustration for instruction) and upload to Blackboard. Alternatively, link to or embed the content, ensuring that you use the hyperlink or embed the code provided by YouTube.

Can I video a lecture which has YouTube/film clips on the slides and show the recording later?

Yes, providing you have followed the advice given in response to the previous question.

Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in my lesson? Can I put it on Blackboard for students to access later?

You can show in the lesson, providing it is for educational purposes and the audience only consists of teaching staff and students. However, you cannot upload an entire film to Blackboard for the students to access later. If the film is available on BoB, then you can provide a link to your students. You can also create clips using BoB.
If the film is not available through BoB, then you could potentially create small extracts from the DVD, and upload them, if a fair dealing exception applies (see Copyright Exception in Useful Links).

Updated advice on streaming films is now available on our webpages

Can I play pre-recorded music in my lesson? Can I put it on Blackboard for students to access later?

As above - you can play in the lesson, providing it is for educational purposes and the audience only consists of teaching staff and students. You can upload small extracts if an exception applies. You could also investigate openly licensed sources of music, such as ccMixter: see Useful Links.


Acknowledging the source of material

Do I have to put a reference (including page number) if I copy/scan materials from a book?

Yes. This is for reasons of copyright and good academic practice. The right to be identified as an author is a moral right under UK copyright law. Many exceptions and licences require the creator to be acknowledged. Additionally - students will not know the source if there is not citation!

Do I have to put a copyright acknowledgement under every photograph or image that I use?

If possible. Exceptions and licences usually require 'sufficient acknowledgement'. This could be a list of citations at the end of your presentation or document, so long as it is clear who the creator/owner is for each copyright work that has been used.