Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Help

Study Skills

Copyright for Lecturers, Instructors and Teaching Staff: Using materials

Question marksUsing materials in your teaching

Copyright exists to give the creators of work rights over how it is used, shared and distributed and also to offer guidelines to others on how works can be used. If a copyrighted work is used in any of these ways without permission this could be considered copyright infringement. It is important that University staff understand what they are allowed to do with copyrighted works in order to avoid infringement which can have both personal and wider consequences.

Infringing copyright can result in financial penalties, possible disciplinary action and cause reputational damage to both the individual and the wider institution. This can happen even if the infringement was accidental. Repeated infringement can result in the withdrawal of key resources such as access to certain online journals which has consequences for all university members. 

The responsibility for any infringement rests with the individual rather than the institution so it is vital that all University staff understand how they can safely use copyright materials in their own work to avoid problems. On this page you will find guidance on using copyrighted materials in your teaching, links to further information and handy checklists to follow for different types of material.

In-person vs online teaching

There are different guidelines to follow depending on whether the teaching is taking place in an in-person classroom or online.

Using both your own and other people’s work for teaching in a classroom is only allowed under certain conditions. 

Fair dealing’ for the purpose of illustration for instruction permits lecturers to copy and display to students enrolled on a course of study brief or short extracts from literary, artistic and musical works, films, sound recordings and broadcasts, so long as:

  • the material is used to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point
  • only what is reasonably required to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point is copied and displayed
  • extracts are limited only to those students being instructed
  • you are not making the material available to the public, e.g. via a website, repository or social media
  • original sources are cited  

In addition to the above, ‘Fair dealing’ for the purposes of criticism, review, quotation and news reporting permits lecturers to quote from a copyright work in their lectures, so long as:

  • the work quoted from has been made available to the public, e.g. the work has been published (the quotation exception does not apply to unpublished materials)
  • the quotation from the work is directly relevant to the criticism or review undertaken of the work
  • the extent of the quotation is no more than is required for the specific purpose which it is being used. In some instances, use of an entire work may be justified e.g. use of a photograph or an image of a work of art with accompanying criticism or review. 
  • the criticism or review must directly accompany the quotation from the work being criticised or reviewed, e.g. on the same or immediately preceding or following presentation slide during a lecture
  • original sources are cited  

NOTE: These exceptions apply to in-person teaching to a defined cohort of students. They are not applicable with wider sharing of a presentation, for example via a website or social media.

According the University’s policy on the recording of lectures, staff members and students should ensure that recordings do not:

  • infringe the intellectual property rights, including copyright, of any third party
  • contain any restricted information in breach of confidence or data protection law
  • constitute a breach of publishing, collaboration or other agreement that governs research or work at the University or elsewhere

As with in-person teaching, using both your own and other people’s work for recorded lectures is allowed only under certain conditions. In most cases the same conditions apply to both in-person and recorded lectures regarding the use of third party materials. There are two notable differences: film/sound recordings and YouTube/other videos and website pages. If your lecture is being recorded you are only permitted to use short clips of these materials.

Films and sound recordings

Copyright exceptions around playing films and sound recordings in their entirety do not apply if a lecture is being recorded. These recorded lectures should include only short clips which are used to illustrate a teaching point. The lectures should only be made available via Moodle. Where students need to watch a whole film or listen to a complete sound recording lecturers should direct them to a library copy they can borrow or a website where they can legally access a copy.

YouTube and other videos, website pages

If a video is legally and freely available online then lecturers can display short clips or extracts in a recorded lecture. The video must be played or streamed live rather than from a download or other copy. If lecturers suspect that the source of the video is infringing copyright or is in any way unlawful then it should not be used.

Checklist: Using images  

Checklist iconYou can use copyright protected images/copies/photos of original works created by you or others during an in-person lecture as long as:

  • The lecture is only for students enrolled on the course of study.
  • Each image is used to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point.
  • Only an amount reasonably required to illustrate or reinforce the teaching point is used.
  • The image or lecture is not made available to the public. for example via a website or social media.
  • The original source of the material is cited, usually by identifying the title, creator and description of the material. All creators of the materials should be credited. NOTE: when using photographs of an artwork both the photographer and the artist will need to be credited, e.g. Photo by [Name of photographer] / Artwork: [Title] by [Name of artist].

Checklist: Using literary works  

Checklist iconYou can use copyright protected copies of original literary works created by you or others during an in-person lecture as long as:

  • The lecture is only for students enrolled on the course of study.
  • Each piece is used to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point.
  • Only an amount reasonably required to illustrate or reinforce the teaching point is used.
  • The work or lecture is not made available to the public, for example via a website or social media.
  • The original source of the materials is cited, usually by identifying the title, creator and description of the material. All creators of the materials should be credited. NOTE: with translated works, both the author of the original work and the translator will need to be credited, e.g. [Title], by [Name of author], translated by [Name of translator].

Checklist: Using audio visual materials  

Checklist iconYou can use copyright protected film and sound recordings as well as YouTube and other videos during an in-person lecture as long as:

  • The lecture is only for students enrolled on the course of study.
  • The film/recording/broadcast is used to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point.
  • Only an amount reasonably required to illustrate or reinforce a teaching point is used.
  • The clip or lecture is not made available to the public, for example via a website or social media.
  • The original source of the material is cited, usually by identifying the title, creator and description of the work.

In a lecture recording to be provided to students via Moodle, only short clips which illustrate teaching points are permitted. In practical terms, if a lecture is being recorded the recording should be paused when a commercial film or sound recording is shown or the content (beyond short clips illustrating a specific point) should be edited out at a later date.

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.

© Cambridge University Libraries | Accessibility | Privacy policy | Log into LibApps | Report a problem