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Copyright guidance: Copyright for researchers

Assistance with matters relating to copyright for Edinburgh Napier University staff and students

Copyright for Researchers

This mini-suite of pages aims to collect together the copyright information you are most likely to need when writing your thesis or research papers.

See the drop-down tabs for further information on:  Protecting your work: and  Using third party materials

Useful sources of copyright information

Useful copyright websites

Copyrightuser.org  - The textual content of the website has been produced by leading copyright academics and is intended to be accurate and authoritative. However, it does not constitute legal advice.

Copyright Hub  - a very useful site, but bear in mind it comes from a creative industries publishing perspective rather than an academic one.

Intellectual Property Office: Copyright  - the government overview of copyright.  This site is intended for all comers may not always highlight the special provisions that exist for HE.

JISC Guides – many of the guides from the JISC Legal site can now be found here.  Excellent for getting an HE perspective.

Fair Dealing

"Fair dealing" is a concept that keeps coming up.  It applies principally to literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works. It is a general permission to copy small amounts that do not harm the interests of copyright holders, for certain specific purposes only. There are no exact limits as to how much may be copied, but safe guidelines might be one copy of up to 5% or one chapter or a book, or one journal article. For short books it may be acceptable to copy up to 10%, provided the extract is not more than 20 pages.  For films or music it might be fair to copy extracts, but not the whole thing.

Acceptable purposes are:

  • copying for private study;
  • research for non-commercial purposes;
  • copying for criticism or review;
  • news reporting (but not photographs).

Copies must be acknowledged as far as is practicable. 

Fair dealing now applies to all types of copyright materials including music and films.

The CopyCats say....

If you want to use materials created by other people in your work, start thinking about it early.  It's OK to quote small amounts, but you need to be sure it will be considered a small amount.  There are no hard and fast rules - especially with photographs, poems, song lyrics and music.  Look at the "Fair Dealing" advice, and if in doubt, ask for permission!