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Copyright and Minerva

What is copyright?

Copyright encompasses a set of exclusive rights to control use of creative, intellectual and artistic material. It is standardised by international convention in many countries.

In the UK, Copyright is principally covered by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright in the UK is automatic for protected materials - there is no requirement or apparatus for registering copyright. Copyright may be bought, sold, transferred, or licenced, and Copyright enforcement in the UK is generally a civil matter.

What can be copyrighted?

Examples of documents, recordings and objects which are normally Copyright are:

  • advertising logos
  • books
  • broadcasts: (TV, Radio)
  • choreography instructions
  • computer programs
  • drawings and engravings
  • films, including videos
  • instructions for plays
  • manuscripts
  • maps, charts, plans
  • musical scores
  • periodicals
  • poems
  • reports
  • song lyrics
  • paintings
  • photographs
  • sound recordings
  • typography
  • webmail messages
  • websites

Copyright Essentials

Who owns this material?

There are serious implications if your answer to this question isn't either "Me" or "The University of Leeds". If you do not own the material you wish to use you must seek permission or licence to use it from the copyright owner(s).

How do I get permission to use material?

There are a couple of ways to obtain permission or licence to use material in Minerva. If you are not the author, and do not otherwise have a right to use the material, you should seek written (this can be in electronic format e.g. email), explicit permission to use the material in Minerva.

Ask early, as permission may take some time to arrange, and be very specific about the context in which you intend to use the material so that the rights holder can make an informed judgement - i.e. Minerva is a networked, authenticated environment for University of Leeds Students; tell them how many students are in your module, how long will the material be available etc. Note the material could be downloaded as well as printed. Don't assume permission will be free of cost - like any form of intellectual property the rights holder can legitimately charge for use of their material. If you can't contact the copyright owner after a reasonable effort to find them - don't assume no response means you are free to use it. Remember that if the material you want to use must be digitised to upload it to Minerva you should seek permission to both digitise it and to use it in your module.

What about using my own/my colleagues material?

You'll need to be certain that you still own copyright. Be aware that if you have published your material elsewhere - such as in a Journal, you may have signed away (transferred) your copyright on the published (or perhaps any version) of that work. It would be useful to consider this when you next publish your work. If you are uploading the work of a colleague within the University of Leeds remember at the very least it is a courtesy to ask permission to use the material.

You are strongly encouraged to include: "© The University of Leeds" and your name as author(s) on all the material you personally author for inclusion in Minerva.

What about "fair use"?

In the UK fair dealing rights allow you to reproduce a limited amount of information without infringing the author's copyright. Fair dealing does not extend a generalised right to use material for teaching purposes. See the Library's guide on fair dealing for more information.

Who can use material I upload?

It will depend on the permission you have been given for the material you upload. In general you will need to ensure that any copyrighted materials you are using for teaching are only available to those users who are enrolled on your module. Some Schools have decided that an open content strategy is more appropriate for their users. Tools within Minerva will allow you to add and remove guest access appropriately within your module content area.

Printed Material

Can I upload a copy of an article I’ve had published in an academic journal?

You may not own the copyright. You will need to check the conditions of the Journal you published in to see whether you signed away your copyright at the time of publication. You may find that you still own pre-print copyright on material you submitted for publication, and could use that instead.

Can I upload an article to Minerva from an electronic journal in the Library catalogue?

You will have to check the licence conditions for the publisher – some journals do allow saved articles to be hosted in a password protected environment; for example the open access material within the BioMed Central database, however in general you will find most publishers do not allow their content to be used in this way. Always check the usage conditions for the journal. Where permission to use material in this way is not obvious or explicit on the journal website, the library has an Online Course Readings service which allows you to suggest a document for digitisation. Other material can be digitised under the CLA Photocopying and Scanning licence, however you cannot do this yourself: you must contact your Faculty Team Librarian.

Can I upload preprints from a preprint archive?

In some cases yes - you’ll need to check the conditions of use for the preprint archive you are using. For example, Nature Precedings allows redistribution under the Creative Commons Attribution licence and copyright remains with the author.


Can I use old images?

Basic copyright on images generally lasts for 70 years after the death of the artist/photographer. You must have the permission of the copyright owner to use them. Note some images are also registered as Trademarks, even though they may be very old. Be aware of exceptions – the Library has more information on special provisions for photographs.

Can I upload images I’ve found on the internet?

No, not unless you have the permission of the copyright owner to do so. Sometimes websites will have a statement of permitted use, or may have released images under a licence such as the Creative Commons licences – if this is the case ensure you understand the permissions granted with the licences. When in doubt, you can always link to the image and provide attribution.

Can I use clipart images in Minerva?

You can use Microsoft Clipart images in Minerva as these are covered by the Microsoft Campus Agreement, however be very careful using any other clipart libraries you may have access to, as many authorise only 'personal' use.

The library have produced guidance on finding free images.

Video and film

Can I use BBC TV recordings on Minerva?

The University holds an Educational Recording Agency ERA+ licence which permits recording from the following providers:

  • BBC television and radio
  • ITV Network services (including ITV2 and ITV3)
  • Channel Four, E4, More 4 and Film 4
  • Five television
  • S4C

You need to ensure though that the television program you intend to use is not from an excluded category. The campus Streaming Media Servers may be suitable repository for large video files. Large video files should not be stored in the Blackboard system.

Can I upload recorded content from 'on demand' services?

No, while the University’s ERA licence covers broadcasts ‘on demand’ services are not considered broadcasts under the terms of the licence and are excluded.

Can I upload clips from feature films on DVD/Video

No, not without permission from the copyright owner.

Can I use old TV footage?

Yes, provided the programme was broadcast more than 50 years ago - copyright on broadcasts ceases after 50 years.

Can I embed video from services such as YouTube.

Yes, but do not assume the video has been posted with permission on the YouTube site. If you know or suspect the item is obviously copyright protected and improperly uploaded - err on the side of caution before linking to it.

See the embed guide for further information.

Sound Recordings

Can I use BBC Radio recordings on Minerva?

The University holds an Educational Recording Agency 'ERA+' licence which permits recording from BBC Radio.

Can I upload recorded content from the BBC listen again service?

No, while the University’s ERA licence covers broadcasts, BBC radio, ‘on demand’ services are not considered broadcasts under the terms of the licence and are excluded.

Can I Digitise and upload copies of records/tapes/CDs?

No, there is no right in the UK format shift media, such as from CD to mp3. You'll need to seek permission from the publisher/copyright holder as with any other copyright resource.

Can I use old radio recordings?

Yes, provided the programme was broadcast more than 50 years ago - copyright on broadcasts ceases after 50 years.


Licencing is another way to use material legally. The University holds a number of licences which allow limited forms of usage of various materials including Open University material, Off air recorded television and radio, and other licenced collections of material such as images. These licences are usually dependent on media type and after refer to specific collections. There is no over arching licence to use material for teaching purposes in your module materials.

CLA Photocopying and Scanning Licence

The CLA Photocopying and Scanning Licence permits you to use scanned material in Minerva. This licence allows staff to have extracts of printed material scanned for uploading into Minerva, however several restrictions apply:

  • The source material must have been published in the UK
  • The University of Leeds must own an original copy of the article or a copyright fee paid copy of the extract. Generally this means the Library should hold a copy and does not apply to your own personal copies.
  • The source material cannot come from the CLA list of excluded works.
  • The material can only be accessible to University of Leeds Staff and Students (you can't store it on a publicly accessible webserver).
  • Only designated staff within the University can make the scanned copy. Currently only Library staff can make the copy and all copies are documented.

Contact your Faculty Team Librarian if you need further information

ERA+ Licence

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 prohibits recording of off-air broadcasts ('Recording for the purposes of time shifting' is permitted use). However the University of Leeds holds the ERA+ (Educational Recording Agency) license.

The ERA+ licence permits recording from

  • BBC television and radio
  • ITV Network services (including ITV2 and ITV3)
  • Channel Four, E4, More 4 and Film 4
  • Five television
  • S4C

The ERA+ license permits viewing of material on campus and off campus. All material should be clearly credited and recordings can be made by any member of staff.

The University Library has more information about using the ERA licence for other purposes.

Other Licences and Collections

The University holds other licences which can expand your opportunities for finding material such as the BioMed Image Archive and the Education Image Gallery for example. These repositories hold a wealth of information. Consult your Librarian for more information. Consider searching the web for material licenced under the Science Commons and Creative Commons licences. These licencing schemes make it simple to find material which you can be assured is properly licenced for use in your learning materials. You might try Flickr for Creative Commons licenced images.

How do I find out more about copyright?

The Library has excellent copyright information and guidance for all types of digital and analogue materials.