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Copyright Guidance at The University of Manchester: Copyright and teaching

A copyright guidance resource for staff, students and researchers at The University of Manchester

Copyright and teaching

Copyright is an important consideration when making any third-party material available to your students. You need to know what you can use, how you can use it and what you can’t use. Unfortunately, this is not always straightforward and sometimes there will be an element of interpretation and risk. This is where we come in: we realise that copyright can often feel quite restrictive, especially within education, however our guidance is designed to help you to develop quality teaching materials without adding to your already busy workload.

Current copyright law seeks to strike a balance between the rights of the rights holder to control how their work is used, and the right to reuse in certain circumstances. It does this by providing some useful exceptions that allow you to copy and use work without having to worry about infringement. In addition, the University also holds a number of licences that allow you to copy material for your teaching, such as the CLA and ERAlicences

This section will look at the different types of content you may wish to use in your teaching materials, and provide guidance and  some FAQs to help you reuse other people's stuff and develop high-quality teaching materials whilst remaining copyright compliant.

If you can’t find the answer that you’re looking for, or if you want further help, please contact us.


Most text-based material used in your teaching is likely to be subject to copyright restrictions. This includes photocopying or downloading material such as book chapters, journal articles or extracts of text.

The University has a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence that covers the photocopying and scanning of most UK publications, and some US and international publishers.

It allows:

  • multiple photocopies of limited extracts from copyright protected printed books, journals and magazines
  • digital copies of limited extracts from copyright protected printed books, journals and magazines

There are also exceptions within the law that can allow you to use text in your teaching materials. Fair dealing exceptions exist for a number of exceptions including criticism and review, illustration for instruction and quotation.


As with text-based material, many images that you will want to use in your teaching materials are likely to be subject to copyright. This includes photographs, diagrams and other illustrations, whether from printed or electronic sources.

Images contained in print sources which are covered by the University’s CLA Licence may be copied and included in a course pack or otherwise distributed to students. Such images can also be used in teaching materials, including those uploaded to BlackBoard.

Beware of images you find online; just because an image is available online doesn’t mean it is free to copy and use without the permission of the rights holder. If you do source images online, try and use Creative Commons licensed images, or images that are in the public domain where the copyright has expired.

When using third-party images, it is essential that you give a full acknowledgement or attribution of the source; this is always good academic practice anyway.


Video, sound, music and broadcasts are all subject to strict copyright conditions, so you need to take care when using them in your teaching materials.

Our ERA Licence allows you to use recorded broadcast media in a teaching and learning environment, including providing remote access to students and staff online (eg via Blackboard).

Other sources of broadcast material include the Box of Broadcasts service (BoB) and various on demand services including BBC iPlayer and 4oD. You may watch & listen to streamed videos/audio for educational and non-commercial use only within the United Kingdom; share and embed both programmes and clips into Blackboard and include full acknowledgement under the ERA Licensing scheme.

Always check the resource’s terms and conditions before use

YouTube is a valuable and popular source of videos but you should use it with care: many video are uploaded illegally without the rights holder’s permission. Best practice is to only use videos from official channels such as the BBC or Channel 4 using the YouTube player embed code provided.

The use of music is very restrictive unless used in specific circumstances. For example, the University of Manchester has a Performing Rights Society Licence which allows music to be used to fulfil an official qualification.

Commercial music is an area where copyright is upheld very strictly, and you should avoid using it unless it’s absolutely essential. You may be able to play music in a standalone lecture for educational/instructional purposes, but you would need to gain permission from the rights holders if you wanted to add it to Blackboard. Getting permission to use commercial music will almost certainly prove expensive.



 Copyright for teaching materials: can I use it?

This short online resource will help you to determine whether you can use specific types of material in your teaching, and how you can use them without breaching copyright.


email copyright team

Glossary of terms

Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence.

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