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Study Skills

Copyright for Lecturers, Instructors and Teaching Staff: Sharing readings

Question marksSharing digitised readings with enrolled students

Staff of the University, particularly those involved in teaching, are likely to need to share some extracts from copyrighted works with students enrolled on a taught course of study. It is important that staff understand how to do this safely and the implications of any potential infringement, either accidental or deliberate.

Sharing digitised readings with students is a simple way to ensure that everyone has access to the material they need to learn but it is vital that this is done within copyright restrictions. This page contains advice on how this sharing can be done safely and any procedures which need to be followed by those compiling readings and course packs to ensure that they remain copyright compliant.

Sharing links to electronic resources

Links to e-journal articles and e-books that are owned or subscribed to by the University can easily be shared with students using the permalink found on iDiscover. There's no limit to the number of links you can share and no need to record or report this. If you can't find the article or e-book you need, contact your Faculty or Department library team in the first instance.

CLA HE Licence: for sharing copies of chapters and journal articles

The University holds a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Licence, which permits, subject to terms and conditions, the copying of extracts of text and still images from most printed books, journals and magazines published in the UK, many published overseas and many digital publications. The Licence is specifically intended to provide course readings for students enrolled on taught courses of study at the University of Cambridge and is not a general licence to copy.

Copies made under the CLA HE Licence terms may be distributed to enrolled students on a course of study:

  • as photocopies; or
  • via a secure, password protected platform (such as Moodle); or
  • via secure e-mail. 

If you would like to make a digital copy available to students please contact your Faculty or Department library, or designated CLA Reporter, in the first instance. Should you not know who your Faculty’s or Department’s Designated Reporter is, please contact the University’s CLA Licensing Co-ordinator .

If you carry out the copying yourself, you must be sure that you are familiar with the Licence requirements, including:

  • Copies can be made for registered students and members of staff only, in connection with a specific course or module. Study and research groups are not permitted to scan and upload materials under the CLA Licence.
  • Copies should only be made from publications owned or subscribed to by the University – or from ‘copyright fee paid copies’ obtained from, for example, the British Library.
  • Copies should only be made from publications covered by the CLA Licence. If you need to check whether a publication is covered, please use the CLA Check Permissions tool or contact the Cambridge University Libraries Copyright Helpdesk team.
  • You can copy up to one chapter from a book, or one article from a magazine or journal – or 10% of the total publication, whichever is the greater. The same limits apply for digital publications.
  • When photocopying, as many copies may be made as necessary to enable each student on a course, plus the tutor, to have access to a copy. The same applies to printouts from digital publications.
  • All digital copies should include a Copyright Notice (coversheet) and are subject to cyclical reporting and management requirements: please contact your Faculty or Department designated reporter. A notice can be downloaded from the Legal Services Copyright Compliance pages (Raven login required) or you can email the Cambridge University Libraries Copyright Helpdesk Team to obtain one.

Be aware that the CLA HE Licence isn’t intended to substitute for the purchase of original material.

Seeking permission to share content from the copyright holder

You will need to seek permission from the copyright holder if you wish to make a copy available to students which isn't covered by the following:

Please contact your Faculty or Department library in the first instance, who can advise on how to contact the copyright holder. It is important to plan ahead as obtaining permission can take time. If no response is received to a permission request this does not mean that the material can be used. 

Need more help?

Speech bubble iconIf you are in any doubt at all about what you are permitted to use, or would like further information, please contact the Copyright Helpdesk.

Checklist for sharing readings

Checklist iconBefore creating a copy to share with students for a course of study, take a look at the checklist below to make sure you have gone through the appropriate steps:

  • Have you checked whether the University owns or subscribes to a digital version of the material (e.g. ebook or ejournal) you wish to share? If so, linking to this resource is usually preferable.
  • Have you checked that the University owns or subscribes to a source copy?
  • Is the material covered by the CLA HE Licence? If not, is the material covered by an alternative licence or permissions?
  • Does the amount you wish to copy fall within permitted extent limits? (PDF opens in new window)
  • Have you prefaced the digital copy with a Copyright Notice?
  • Is the copy shared via a secure, password-protected site where only enrolled students can access it?
  • If the copy is made under the CLA HE Licence terms, have you reported the copy to your Faculty / Department library; or to the Cambridge University Libraries Copyright Helpdesk Team?

Can I share materials openly online or via social media?

Unless you are the sole owner and copyright holder of the material, generally, you are not permitted to post copyright-protected course materials or readings openly on the Internet without permission from those who do hold the rights. Posting materials online constitutes republishing or distributing the materials which breaches copyright.  

Works released under open licences such as Creative Commons (CC) Licences may be shared openly on the Internet provided you attribute the copyright owner and adhere to the prescribed terms of the licence.

Sharing Creative Commons (CC) materials

Creative Commons licences provide a way for copyright holders to licence the use of the material they create. It uses a simple formula to construct a licence which allows for easy sharing and reuse whilst at the same time offering protection for the copyright holder. More information about Creative Commons licences can be found on the Copyright for Researchers guide.

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