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Copywrong to Copyright

This resource is licenced under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence by Claire Sewell, the Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries.

Copywrong to Copyright header


The information in this unit is intended for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.


Welcome to this online resource on copyright in scholarly communication. Copyright underpins every element of the research process from establishing the research question as an original idea through to sharing outputs at the end of a project and it is vital that those supporting the research process have a good understanding of it. Copyright is a notoriously complex topic and there is not space to cover every aspect in one unit of a resource so this unit will focus on copyright in terms of research support only. It's also important to note that copyright varies from country to country and what is acceptable in one may not be acceptable in another. This resource focuses only on UK copyright law and its interpretations.

Time commitment

This unit should take between 30 - 40 minutes to complete.

This resource is aimed at academic library staff in the UK who are new to working in research support or need to refresh their knowledge of a particular topic. In many institutions research support may only be one part of a larger role and it can be hard to develop a knowledge of the basics. This resource is designed to fill in these potential gaps. Learners can work through the whole resource in sequence or just dip into individual units as they need to. All of the units begin with a clear outline of the topic together with a list of anticipated learning outcomes. Within each unit learners will find optional reflective activities which encourage them to think about how the topic in question relates to their own work environment. The scholarly communication landscape varies by country so, although the basics will remain the same, learners from outside the UK should investigate their local policies and practices.

Learners can navigate through the unit in a number of ways. The ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons below can be used to move through the unit in a linear way, the tabs on the left of the screen will allow learners to jump to a particular page and the homepage can be reached at any time by using the ‘Return home’ button.


   This unit will cover the following topics:

  • What is copyright and why is it important?
  • Third party copyright and using the work of others
  • Copyright and theses
  • Image copyright
  • What can researchers do with their work?


   At the end of this unit learners will:

  • Understand copyright in a research support context
  • Be able to outline the various educational exceptions to copyright
  • Be able to define third party material and how researchers can use it
  • Understand how researchers can licence their own work

Select the Next button below to move on to the next section of the unit.

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