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These copyright FAQs have been generated by postgraduate students. Please note these answers are for guidance only and do not constitute legal advice.

1. How can you use online images/icons in outputs? Does this breach copyright?

Regarding images - if for publication (as opposed to your dissertation/viva i.e. educational purposes), you will always need to obtain permission from the rights holder - in writing. You must specify exactly how you intend to use the image. If permission is denied you won’t be able to include it. Sometimes rights holders will assign a Creative Commons Licence showing what is permissible so always check any rubric attached to the source of the image.

Regarding icons, these could be registered as trademarks so again permission is required for publication purposes. Even unregistered icons need permission.

If you are including images and icons from third parties in your dissertation/viva/university work you are able to use them (with correct attribution) without formal permission. Always reference the source.

2. Is there a new law about online resources e.g. visual materials as appropriate to the arts in general?

New legislation introduced as statutory instruments in June 2014 has enabled digital sources to be used for educational purposes more liberally without the need for formal permission from the rights holders. However, the exceptions are limited to specific circumstances and your use of the material must satisfy the fair dealing test. You should use no more than is necessary for your purpose. So for visual materials, for example, using an excerpt of a film to illustrate your point (indicatively 5%) is acceptable, but copying and using the whole film without express permission would not be. You must acknowledge the source in your dissertation.

3. How do we make students aware of copyright from day one?

The Graduate School run induction sessions for all doctoral students that include copyright guidance.

4. I have a photograph of a famous painting in my lectures. I took the photo of it. Am I ok to use it without express permission?

Yes. Under the new legislation (June 2014) images produced for educational purposes in teaching and learning are allowed without permission. Attribution is required as with all sources used. The copyright in the original work of art remains with the artist until after 70 years from his/her death. If the artist is deceased longer than this, then the work is no longer subject to copyright. You may be able to claim copyright in your photograph of the work of art, depending on the level of creative input from you and you may wish to protect it. See the IPO Notice on digital images. Some museums and art galleries prohibit photography of certain exhibits, so the above answer assumes this is not the case in this example.

5. If undergraduate dissertations are published in the University of Cumbria’s repository Insight – will copyright be infringed?

Currently the institutional repository does not house undergraduate dissertations, though it could do in the future. Under the University’s IPR Policy students own their own copyright (though not in examination scripts) and would be asked to assign copyright or grant permission before their dissertation was placed in Insight. A student could refuse on the grounds of wishing to retain privacy. Some dissertations eg MBAs are commercially sensitive and these would not be lodged in Insight. Dissertations would need to be checked for any items of third party copyright before being made available via Insight.  

6. What happens when a publisher has gone out of business and it is not practical to chase for copyright permission?

In this situation you need to be cautious. It is advisable to keep a record of the steps you have taken in your efforts to contact the publisher. However the statutory exceptions still apply in some cases and you may be able to cover your use of the copyright work by staying within the limits of fair dealing.

7. Can Ridley Scott stop me from exhibiting a film using footage from 'Blade Runner'?

Possibly. If the excerpt of the film is for educational purposes e.g. to show to students as part of their programme, then no, as long as the use of the footage and the size of the excerpt fall within the fair dealing exception. It must not be exhibited to any other audience or for any other purpose (such as entertainment or promotion). If the clip is included in the virtual learning environment further copying is not allowed. If the exhibition is for entertainment or commercial purposes, then yes Ridley Scott retains the copyright and you will need permission in order to use the excerpt (and will probably incur a fee).

8. What will happen with Open Access in 2016 and enforcing copyright? What about unpublished material?

The open access route to publication is available now. Publishing in an open form is a goal of the UK government and UK higher education. HEFCE have indicated that only articles published in open access formats will be eligible for submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2020.   
This is to ensure that publicly funded research outputs are available on a global scale and also to the public. This will encourage research dissemination to the widest possible audience and support universities to produce inter-disciplinary research and high quality outputs. Research Councils in the UK are also demanding open source publication including publishing data underpinning research and making this a condition of the research funding.

9. Some of my original paintings are on the web in the form of photos. Having released these on the web how can I claim copyright?

You don’t have to claim copyright – it is present in UK law and an automatic right. It would be wise to assert your claim to originality and copyright by assigning an appropriate Creative Commons Licence to the materials. This also gives viewers the opportunity to contact you and may lead to future collaboration or further joint outputs. These images should be uploaded to Insight to promote them.

10. How legally binding is the © symbol? Do I have to put this against items I post on the web to claim copyright?

It is advisable to assert your rights using the © symbol and/or assign a Creative Commons Licence. Copyright in the UK is an automatic right but this is not so in some other jurisdictions.

11. How is it best to spot and stop plagiarism in researcher outputs e.g. thesis and papers?

Attend a University Library session on finding and using information to enable you to find high quality and reliable original and secondary sources. Use the University Guide 'Cite them right' to be confident in referencing all your material. Be aware of the fair dealing exceptions and the amounts of content from a third party that is acceptable. Use 'Turnitin' to find out how much of your written output is original and act on the originality report – discussing and sharing the results with your supervisor at an early stage.

12. How relevant is Copyright in the age of the internet?

Very relevant. Copyright is present in all outputs and all media in expressive form. Arguably online formats require even more protection because of the ease of dissemination and pervasive nature of communication.

13. How can you defend your rights as a copyright owner without assigning copyright to the university? 

It depends on your status with your university. As a member of staff at the University of Cumbria you need to comply with the University IPRpolicy.pdf. As a POKER student currently, you are subject to the Lancaster University IPR Policy. 

14. What are the benefits of assigning rights to the University?

Universities can assist research and undergraduate students to exploit intellectual property rights, where a business case can be made for commercial exploitation, for example via the UoC Enterprise Office. Reward sharing schemes are in place for staff, and students can take up opportunities to engage with business.

15. When you write for a journal can you hold the copyright?

It depends on the publisher. The publisher will normally expect you to assign your copyright as a term of acceptance for publication, especially if this is via the Gold route. You should negotiate copyright and agree terms and conditions ahead of agreeing to place your publication with a publisher and be very clear about where and how your research paper will be disseminated. You should explore the possibility of granting the publisher a licence to publish your material as an alternative to outright assignment of your copyright.

Useful links:

Lancaster University IPR Policy

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