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Copyright guidance

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

Audiovisual copyright

Copyright can be very complicated when it comes to multimedia content.

There can be different copyrights in sound, text, images, video, typographical layouts.  If you are re-using multimedia material, make sure you have checked it all out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is likely to own the copyright?

  • Photographs = photographer since 1989, or owner of negatives before that
  • Databases = maker, or employer of maker
  • Films = producer and principal director, but there will be separate copyrights in music, screenplay, dialogue etc.
  • Broadcasts = person making broadcast, or employer
  • Sound recordings = normally the producer has the rights to the recording, but performers, composers, and lyric writers may also have rights
  • Multimedia productions = very complicated, could be writers, performers, producers, composers, choreographers etc.

How long does copyright last?

  • Copyright is generally 70 years from the end of the year of death of the creator
  • For sound recordings copyright is now generally 70 years from the end of the year of release.
  • For broadcasts, 50 years from the end of the year in which it is first broadcast (but could be longer depending on the content of the broadcast).
  • The typographical layout of printed works is usually protected for 25 years from the end of the year of publication. This applies to printed music as well.

Some sectors of activity have set up organisations to promote and protect the copyrights of their members, and to collect royalties. These are often the best places to begin an enquiry about copyright permissions.

The Music Licence - PRS, MCPS, PPL

The Music Licence

The University is required by law to make returns to the Performing Right Society (PRS).  The PRS pays royalties to composers, songwriters and publishers when their music is broadcast on TV or radio, performed or played in public, whether live or recorded, or streamed or downloaded.    They work in conjunction with the MCPS (Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society) who pay royalties when their works are copied as physical products (e.g. CD or DVDs), streamed or downloaded, or used in TV and film.

We also have to make returns to the PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) which pays royalties to record companies and performers for recorded music broadcast on TV, radio or online, and also when TV or radio is played in public places. 

This all sounds complicated, but these organisations now work together and provide their services via The Music Licence.

So this means that if you are doing any of these things you just need to make one report.

Contact the University's Property & Facilities Service Desk to find out how to report your data.

Music used in lectures, for the purpose of education, does not require to be included in the return.

Music that must be reported includes music used on university premises for events such as open days (university, department, school) campus openings, sporting activities/classes, background music, promotional discs, hosted dinners etc  Playlists should be provided, including the recording artist's name or the group or individual performer’s name.