Skip to Main Content

Copyright: Copyright Information

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg


What Can I Copy?

What is the act of copying?

  • Copying includes making scans or photocopies of material for personal private study. This includes using text, photographs, images, maps, recordings, music, databases etc.
  • Re-using any copyright material in an essay, assignment, dissertation, thesis, PowerPoint slide or handout

UK copyright law limits the amount of material you may legally reproduce

Generally, you can only copy a work if:

  • Copyright has expired or been waived
  • You make a copy using one of the permitted exceptions in legislation. Please see the section on 'Copying for Private Study or Research' and 'fair dealing' for limits to the amount you may legally copy
  • You make a copy under the terms of a licence held by the University
  • You have obtained permission from the copyright holder
  • You are able to use an open licence, such as Creative Commons

Protecting Your Copyright

Copyright legislation protects your work and stops other people from using it without permission. Copyright restricts others from copying, distributing, renting or lending copies of your work. Performing, showing or playing the work in public, or making adaptations is also prevented.

An author of a work has a moral right to be identified as the creator of the work and has the right to object to derogatory use. Economic rights give the author exclusive rights to control and exploit their work whilst retaining ownership.

As copyright is an automatic right, you are not required to register ownership but you should assert this right to ensure protection of moral rights.

You may choose to add the © symbol to your work, together with your name and the year of creation, but this is optional.

'All Rights Reserved' - Any use requires permission unless a legal exception applies or 'Some Rights Reserved' - usually used with licensing information or specific terms of use.

How Long Does Copyright Last?

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works: life of author + 70 years from the end of the year in which the creator diedIf the author is unknown or unpublished, copyright expires at the end of 2039 or 70 years beyond the death of the author, whichever is greater. Expired copyright works are considered to be in the public domain
  • Sound recordings: 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording was made; however this extends to 70 years if it was made publicly available or published
  • Broadcasts: 50 years from the end of the year the broadcast was first made
  • Films: 70 years from the end of the year in which the last of the following died - principal director, screenplay author, dialogue author or composer of music used in the film
  • Databases: 15 years from the end of the year in which a database was completed. Databases may receive copyright protection if the selection and arrangement of the contents is sufficiently original. Database right is an automatic right and updates enable the copyright period to begin again
  • Crown copyright: 125 years from the end of the year of creation, or 50 years from first commercial publication. The Open Government Licence permits public sector information to be re-used freely with few conditions
  • Parliamentary copyright: 50 years from the end of the year in which it was created. The Open Parliament Licence permits you to re-use content flexibly with few conditions. It covers not only material in which either House owns the copyright or database right, but also material published before 1 August 1989 in which Crown copyright subsists
  • Typographical arrangements of published material: 25 years from the end of the year in which the work was first published. New editions of out-of-copyright works are also protected

Copyright Basics - Exceptions and fair dealing

You may make a single copy or short extract for your own private study and/or non-commercial research. The amount which may be copied is not specified but should be insubstantial. This is applicable to all types of copyright work and includes recordings of  performances. However, musical scores are not included within this copying framework.

Limits are often defined as:

an extract not exceeding more than 5% or one single chapter from the same source (whichever is greater); one single article in one issue of a journal or set of conference proceedings; one single case from a published report of judicial proceedings; one scene from a play, or one short story or one poem or one play not exceeding 10 pages in length contained in an anthology.

You must ensure that use of the material is fair and you must always give appropriate acknowledgment to the copyright holder when copying for research purposes. This permission is known as "fair dealing" and is a matter of judgment for the individual; does the reproduction affect the commercial sale of the original and would it be considered reasonable and appropriate?  It is applicable to the exceptions relating to research and private study, criticism or review, and news reporting.

Section 29, CDPA

There is another exception where you may copy very limited amounts for the purpose of criticism and review. This is applicable to published works and you are required to acknowledge the source.

There is a degree of overlap between using criticism and review and the quotation exception. Broadly, quotation can be used as a general exception for short quotes from a variety of sources. Criticism and review may be used to critique or review original work for meaning and/or context.

You may rely on these exceptions when:

the work is publicly available
use of the material is fair
the purpose of using the extract is for quotation, criticism or review
use of the work is accompanied by acknowledgment wherever practicable (identify the creator and the title of the work)
The use of the quotation must extend no further than is required to achieve your purpose.

It is worth noting that the exceptions for quotation and for criticism and review cannot be overridden by contract.

Section 30, CDPA

Researchers are permitted to use text and data mining technology to harvest copyright works. This exception is only applicable for non-commercial purposes. As a researcher you must have lawful access to a copy of the work, for example, via a library subscription. You must provide sufficient acknowledgement unless this is not practical. 

Section 29A, CDPA

You can access further information on text data mining and copyright by visiting the Swansea University Research Data site. The site includes a TDM copyright checklist.

You may use copyright material for reporting current events providing you use 'fair dealing' amounts and you acknowledge your source. This includes short extracts from text or digital media clips when used for reporting current events. Photographs are not included and may only be reproduced with permission from the rights holder.

The University's basic licence from the Newspaper Licensing Agency covers copying for teaching and learning purposes from national UK newspapers and 5 regional titles.  It does not cover foreign newspapers.

For further information about the licence for educational establishments, please visit the NLA Media Access website.

Section 30, CDPA

You are now permitted to use the 'fair dealing' defence if using an existing work for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche. You may use a copyright exception to create a new work without the need to obtain explicit permission from the rights holder. However, be mindful that satirical use must not amount to derogatory action and it should have noticeable differences to the original work.

A pastiche composition is usually made from a variety of sources
Parody misrepresents or imitates, often for the purpose of satire or humorous effect
An exaggerated or simplified representation of a person for comic effect is a caricature

Section 30A, CDPA

Please see the extensive explanation on the Information for Teachers tab.

This permits fair dealing digital copying for teaching purposes, for setting and communicating examinations questions, for theses and potentially for use in a VLE.

Section 32, CDPA

Orphan Works

If you are unable to ascertain the rights holder, or the creator of the work is unknown, then you are dealing with an orphan work. Copyright expires at the end of 2039.

Accessible Copies / Exceptions for Disability

Individuals are permitted to make a single copy of a copyright work in an accessible format for the personal use of a disabled person, if a commercially available accessible copy is unavailable. This means that provided the person making the copy has lawful possession of the original work, they may create an adapted version.

Further information is available via the Swansea University Transcription Centre (SUTC)

Sections 31A & 31B CDPA

Using Maps

Ordinance Survey (OS) mapping which was created prior to 1 April 2015 will be protected by Crown copyright for a period of 50 years from its first publication. Accordingly, if an OS map was first published over 50 years ago it can be copied or otherwise used without a licence from OS.

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the copyright arising in the updates to OS mapping, or in new mapping data, software, or other materials, after 1 April 2015, will last for a period of 70 years following the death of all the persons involved in creating it. It is only after expiry of this period, that the mapping can be copied or otherwise used without a licence from OS. Further information on copyright and database mapping is available from the Ordinance Survey website

Swansea University subscribes to the following resources, all of which allow educational use of Ordinance Survey maps and data:

Digimap  service, Historic Digimap, Environment Digimap and more.

The Digimap Collections License Agreement permits an accredited individual to save electronically or print limited parts of maps under their license terms and conditions. The OS website includes a section on Education Resources and provides information for universities using licensed Digimap services. When you complete your registration Digimap will permit you access and you may use the Landmark Data in this service solely for educational use. See their license data website for further information. 

Non OS maps are considered artistic works, so CDPA 'fair dealing' copyright exceptions will apply.

Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View allow the annotation of its maps including permission to use in journal articles, reports, presentations, magazines, etc. provided you are using the mapping tools for a non-commercial purpose and you use proper attribution.

Please check the terms and conditions before reproducing any map content.

Selling copyright content to commercial sites

Staff and students are respectfully reminded that they should not sell Swansea University content to commercial sites supplying educational resources to students.  Swansea University lecture notes, examination papers and module content are protected by the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988. 

Staff and students are reminded of their obligation to adhere to the Digital Acceptable Use Policy. University content should not be shared without permission from the author(s).