Copyright basics Copyright basics

If you're new to copyright and want to understand what it is, who owns it, and how it might affect you as a student or member of staff, Jisc have provided a useful overview of UK copyright law as it affects the UK Higher Education sector.

How much can be copied? How much can be copied?

The amount of copyright material that can be copied for non-commercial private study or research is not defined by the UK Copyright Design and Patents Act, which refers instead to the concept of fair dealing for the making of single copies of a copyright work.

The amount that can be scanned or photocopied for multi-use educational purposes under the terms of the University's CLA licence is clearly defined and may serve as a general rule of thumb. Under the 2016-19 licence, the proportion of a work that can be copied is whichever is the greater of 10% or

  • one chapter of a book
  • one article of a journal issue
  • one paper of one set of conference proceedings
  • one report of a single case from a report of judicial proceedings
  • one scene from a play
  • one short story or one poem or one play of not more than 10 pages in an anthology of short stories, poems or plays

Making copyright work accessible to all Making copyright work accessible to all

UK copyright law now entitles anyone with any form of impairment or disability that prevents them accessing copyright work to reproduce a copyright work in an accessible format.

This recent change to the law allows individuals, educational establishments and not-for-profit organisations to reproduce all types of copyright work in accessible formats, for example making large print copies of books or adding subtitles to films or broadcasts.

However such copies can only be made if the copyright work is not already commercially available in an accessible format.

If you are making accessible-format copies on behalf of UEA you should report any copies made to

Duration of copyright Duration of copyright

Type of copyright material

How long will copyright last?

Literary work

e.g. Book, poetry, song lyrics, manuscript, newsletter, computer programme

70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies

Dramatic work

e.g. play, film script, dance

70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies

Musical work

e.g. recording, score

70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies

Artistic work

e.g. photograph, sculpture, painting, product design, architecture

70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies

Sound recording

Includes all recording formats

50 years from date of recording, if not published / made available to the public

If recording is published / made available to the public within 50 years of when it was made, copyright lasts for 70 years from year when it was first published / made public


70 years from the death of the last of: the principle director, author of screenplay/dialogue, composer of music made specifically for that film


Includes live and pre-recorded. Does not include ‘on demand' or internet-based shows

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast was made

Typographical arrangement of published editions

25 years from end of calendar year in which first edition was published


15 years. A new copyright is created each time the database is significantly amended

Computer-generated work

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made

Anonymous work

70 years after the work is lawfully made public (including publishing, public performance or broadcast)

Part works (e.g. volumes, episodes)

Duration for each part should be considered separately

This flowchart from the British Library may also be useful in establishing duration of copyright.

Related rights Related rights

There are some intellectual property rights that, while not technically copyright, are similar and should be taken into account whenever copyright is an issue. 

Performance rights

In addition to the rights of any copyright holder to perform a work, there are separate rights in the performance of a work itself.  These rights initially vest in the performer and are virtually identical to those of a copyright holder but include the additional right to:
•    make a recording of the performance directly from the live performance
•    broadcast live the performance
•    make a recording of the performance directly from a broadcast of the live performance
•    Make a copy of the recording of the performance
•    Show, play or communicate to the public a recording the performance, or issue, rent or lend to the public copies of a recording of the performance

A lecture or a presentation is likely to be considered a 'performance'. 

Performers also have moral rights.

Database rights

Regardless of its content, a database has rights attached to it and will merit protection in its own right irrespective of copyright if there has been a substantial investment in obtaining, organising and presenting the contents of the database.  There is no requirement that the contents of the database are original.  The maker of the database is the owner of the database rights. The contents of a database may well have copyright rights separate from the database right. See the Jisc copyright overview for further details.

Publication right

This is a right that exists for the first publication within the European Economic Area of previously unpublished work that is out of copyright protection.  This right only exists within literary, dramatic or musical works, artistic works & films, and due to the way in which copyright applies currently to unpublished works within the UK, this right will not exist before 2039 as all unpublished works with copyright will automatically be in copyright until that date. 

Copyright Licences Copyright Licences

UEA pays for licences that facilitate the legal re-use of copyright work for the purposes of non-commercial teaching and research. The licences are important as they allow us to make use of copyright works in ways that would not be permitted by law, without specific permission of the copyright holder.

As well as operating licensing schemes, these agencies - also known as collecting societies or collective management organisations - collect and distribute fees or royalties on behalf of their members and police the use of intellectual property covered by their terms of reference. UEA is licensed by the following:

  • The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). For photocopying and scanning from books, periodicals and some foreign newspapers. Most UK publishers and a number of US publishers authorise the CLA to act on their behalf. Notices about the scope of our CLA licence are displayed adjacent to all photocopiers and MFDs on campus.
  • The Newspaper Licencing Agency (NLA). For photocopying from UK national newspapers and some local newspapers. The licence covers multiple copying and the circulation or display on campus of photocopies by all members of the University, and all educational uses of the material copied.
  • The Educational Recording Agency (ERA). For off-air recording of broadcasts by BBC, ITV, and Channel 4. The licence covers the recording of all unencrypted broadcasts, excluding Open University programmes. It does not cover the copying of recordings or programmes from on-demand services.