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Copyright law is changing!

In order to comply with recent EU legislation, UK copyright legislation is changing in some important respects from 31 October 2003.

All copying for commercial purposes from works in copyright now requires permission or must be done under licence. This invariably means payment of a fee.

This change applies to both published and unpublished works (unpublished works includes manuscripts and theses).

Most of the copying undertaken by University staff and students is not for a commercial purpose and the impact of this change is likely, therefore, to be limited. However, it may have implications for some researchers, depending on the nature and purpose of their funding; for staff working on publications which subsequently give rise to royalty fee income and for commercial ventures with which the University is associated.

Copying for your personal use

Up until now, it has been possible to undertake limited copying from works in copyright for personal use for the purposes of research or private study.

From 31 October 2003, such copying must only be "for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose ." or "for the purposes of private study". "Private study" does not include any study which is directly or indirectly for a commercial purpose.

University staff, and students on credit bearing courses, can also copy for their personal use under the University's licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA).

At the moment, it is not entirely clear whether copying which could be regarded as having a 'commercial' purpose is covered by this licence. In any event, please note that all copying under the licence must be within the limits allowed by the licence, the publisher must be covered by the licence, any copies made must not be distributed to anyone other than another University staff member or student and copies may not be sold (although the direct cost of making a copy for another University staff member or student can be recovered from the recipient).

Further information about the CLA licence is available.

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Copying for your students

Multiple copying for students on credit bearing courses is covered by the University's licence with the CLA and is not affected. As noted above, you must remain within the terms of the licence.

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Requesting photocopies from the Library

The Library provides University staff and students with photocopies of articles from journals not available in the Library on request. From 31 October 2003, such photocopies can be supplied without payment of a copyright fee provided they are for research for a non-commercial purpose or private study.

The law requires the Library to ensure that you sign a declaration to this effect.

If the photocopy you require is for a commercial purpose, you must state this when you make the request. The Library will then attempt to obtain a copyright fee paid copy. The Library will cover the additional cost of doing this - but please note that this policy is subject to review (copyright fees range from around 5 per photocopy upwards).

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What is a 'commercial' purpose?

It is your responsibility to decide whether a photocopy that you make, or request, is for a commercial or a non-commercial purpose.

Unfortunately, the legislation does not define a 'commercial' purpose. The following guidance is based on information from the British Library Copyright Office and other established authorities. However, please note that this guidance cannot be regarded as formal legal advice.

  • 'commercial' is in practice synonymous with directly or indirectly income-generating (and, therefore, has a broader meaning than profit-making)
  • it is your intention at the time of making or requesting a copy that counts in deciding whether it is for a commercial purpose - not a later, originally unforeseen, use that you make of the copy
  • the fact that you work for a non-profit making organisation (such as a University) does not mean that all copies that you make or request are, as a consequence, for a non-commercial purpose

The following are examples of what could be considered a 'commercial' purpose.

  • Work done for a spin-off company owned by the University or a charity, even if all profits are covenanted to the University or the charity.
  • Work done in drafting a book, book chapter, or an article for a scholarly journal for which the author will be paid or receive royalties.
  • Work done in preparation for a conference speech for which the speaker will be paid, over and above expenses.
  • Research undertaken or contracted-out by a commercial company in support of its commercial activities.
  • Market research or competitor intelligence in all organisations.
  • Searching for legislation and regulations for a commercial company.
  • Research whose results will be passed to a commercial company for commercial use.
  • Work done to assist in private medicine.
  • Work done by an information broker for clients.

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Further information

Further information about copyright is available.

If you have any queries about the implications of these changes for your work, please contact

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