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Library Guides

Copyright for Students: My Studies

What do we need to know?

Why you need to think about copyright

Much of what you do as a student while at University is covered by exceptions to copyright 

When using works created by others, you will either be relying on some limited exceptions in law for example:

  • Study
  • Research
  • Criticism

In other cases you must have the permission of the copyright holder, to copy, adapt or perform the work or share it with others to avoid liability for yourself, university or college

Visit the UK Government’s Exceptions to Copyright page for details on how to use copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner 

The most relevant passages for you as a student are: 

Find out if you can use an image

Or search for some copyright-free, sources

For educational purposes, it isn’t necessary to ask permission to use an image like this one.

But it is best practice and ethical, when using in a presentation or as a handout, to cite the source.

Reference in the same way as any other, non-visual material. 

See our Referencing Guide for details


Attribution is an important part of copyright compliance 

Award winning film exploring the key principles of copyright

Winner of the AHRC's 10th Anniversary Research In Film Awards!

By Professor Ronan Deazley & Bartolomeo Meletti 2014

Welcome to Copyright Aware

Copyright Aware 

Find out how to use copyright as a tool,  explore this website to find out more 
Copyright © 2018 BBC

Training videos produced by the BBC in association with BBC Academy.

Making copies

Copying limits

These guidelines cover:

  • photocopying
  • printing
  • scanning
  • downloading content

Digital Images, data and text are also protected by copyright

You can copy material if one of the following applies:

  • you own the copyright yourself
  • you have the permission of the person who owns the copyright
  • the material is "out of copyright"
  • the University holds a licence which permits the copying you want to carry out
  • you are copying within the accepted limits of fair dealing

Fair Dealing

What is Fair Dealing?

Fair dealing is a legal term used to establish whether use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright

Fair dealing requires that the amount copied is reasonable and appropriate to the context and that use must not affect the market for the work and the owner must not lose out financially

For Example
Provided the copying is for private study or non-commercial research it would usually be fair:

  • To copy a chapter from a book for your course, but not the whole book
  • To copy extracts from a film, but not the whole film

In some cases, the University may hold a license which allows copies to be made by permission, rather than under fair dealing.

Fair Dealing

Covers copying for: 

  • non-commercial private study
  • or for non-commercial research
  • The amount you can copy may be up to 5% of a book or journal 
  • The amount used must also be reasonable and appropriate

For other media this amount is harder to define

  • For images it is suggested that low resolution of the image is used


  • Most e-books are covered by copyright
  • You may only print or download small sections
  • About one chapter is usually allowed
  • Some publishers set limits by number of pages or a percentage
  • Data Rights Management (DRM) security is often used to prevent copying or printing a whole book 
Attempts to illegally download can be monitored and are a breach of copyright law and the University regulations

Moral Rights

  • Moral rights cannot be sold or transferred
  • The rights holder can choose to waive these rights

There are four moral rights in the UK:

  1. ‚ÄčThe right to attribution: is the right to be recognised as the author of a work
  2. The right to object to derogatory treatment: for any addition, deletion, alteration or adaptation that amounts to a distortion or mutilation, that is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author
  3. The right to object to false attribution: is the right not to be named as the author of a work you did not create
  4. The right to privacy of certain photographs and films: this enables someone who has commissioned a photograph or film for private and domestic purposes to prevent it from being made available to the public 

The National Archives Published 26 March 2015

Available under the Open Government Licence v3.0


This guidance provides an overview of the main copyright/IP issues for students at the University of Westminster.
It should not be taken as legal advice.
If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of a suitably qualified and experienced legal professional.