Copyright for tutors

Using copyrighted material needs care. Here’s what teaching staff and presenters should think about

The Tavistock and Portman has two licences that allow staff to use copyright text material as part of their work activities: an HE licence and an NHS England Plus licence. For films, TV and radio programmes, there is another licence we use from the Educational Recording Agency (ERA), which allows us to use Box of Broadcasts (BoB). Read about what these licences allow you to use on our Copyright Basics page.

It also might be possible to use material by relying on what are called ‘exceptions’ in UK copyright legislation. To do this the use would need to be deemed fair and not covered by one of our licences. While there are legal guidelines, what this all means specifically is not set down in legislation, so there is some element of risk-management involved.

We give some guidance on this page, but this does not constitute legal advice. All copied material must be for non-commercial purposes. Remember there can be financial penalties for breaking copyright law, so please contact the library if in doubt.

Assessing risk

Ask yourself the following questions when considering using material that will not be covered by our licences:

  1. How likely is it that what you want to do infringes copyright?
  2. How likely is it that the copyright holder would object?
  3. How likely is it that your activity will be discovered by the copyright holder?
  4. What would the impact be (both financially and in terms of reputation) if any action were taken against you or the Trust?

The risk of the use being challenged by the copyright holder will need to be balanced against any drawbacks of not providing the material to students. Trust documentation on risk appetite and procedures must be consulted before you make any decision.

Fair dealing

Copyright exceptions rely on the use of the work being fair. What is deemed fair can vary, but consider these points:

  1. Could your use of the work affect the market for the original work and damage sales?
  2. Is the amount of the work taken reasonable and appropriate? Only use what is relevant and necessary to make your point.
  3. It is essential that the work is given appropriate credit or attribution unless impossible or highly impractical.

Exceptions to copyright

There are a number of copyright exceptions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act that could apply to teaching. You can read about educational exceptions in UK Government advice documents. These exceptions can allow you to use material in teaching when it is not covered by a licence. You do not need to get permission from the copyright holder when relying on an exception, but fair-dealing conditions usually apply.

Two of the most relevant exceptions are Section 30: Quotation and Section 32: Illustration for Instruction.

When it comes to showing a film or TV programme, you may be able to use the exception Section 34: Performing, playing or showing work in course of activities of educational establishment. Fair dealing does not apply for this exception, but you can only show the material to students on the course, and you should not record it.  

Creative Commons

Material shared under a Creative Commons licence can be used freely without getting permission from the creator, but may require attribution. There are several types of these licences and you can get explanations on the Creative Commons website. Most Open Access material is published under Creative Commons licences.

Photographs and other images

If you intend to reuse a copyright-protected image in a teaching presentation to support a specific point, this might be covered by the copyright exception Illustration for Instruction. Fair dealing will need to apply, so you should provide sufficient acknowledgement of the author, work and the source of the image if possible. This copyright exception only applies to non-commercial teaching activity, so you will not be able to use it in other situations. 

It is advisable to be careful when considering using professionally created images, and it would be lower risk to find material that has made available under a Creative Commons licence. You will still need to check the terms of use and be sure you give the appropriate credit for Creative Commons material. 

There are also online services offering free images that can be used without attribution (although they are still under licence) such as Pexels, and Unsplash. However, it is still advisable to give attribution if possible.

Video and audio

Our subscription to BoB means anything on there is covered by our ERA licence when showing material to staff and registered students. For showing films and programmes to students, you might be able to use the exception Section 34: Performing, playing or showing work in course of activities of educational establishment. It has been argued by some copyright experts that copyright exceptions such as Illustration for Instruction and Quotation could also apply to the use of video. You might be able to use these exceptions when the ERA licence does not apply or for material not on BoB, but it must be for non-commercial purposes. Please contact the library if in doubt.

Overseas courses

Copyright is a territorial right and what is permitted can vary between countries. So if you plan to supply online material to overseas students it is essential that the material complies with copyright laws in their country of residence. 

Further information

See these website for more details about specific areas of copyright:

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