Copyright in Online Environments
Text extracts, images and other content that is not your own is likely to be covered by copyright. You and the University are at risk from being sued and/or prosecuted for infringing copyright when using third party material in an online environment including within recorded lectures using myEcho, or uploading materials to MOLE, uSpace, and/or the video streaming service.
The University of Sheffield has signed a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence which enables the Library to digitise print copies of journal articles, book chapters or images as well as make multiple paper photocopies for teaching. Further details are available through the Eoffprints page.
When considering material for use in an online environment or social networking site you must assume that permission is required to download and re-use an item unless:
- The item is out of copyright
- The individual using the material is the copyright holder
- Your organisation is the copyright holder
N.B. Although you may be the author of a journal article/book chapter you do not necessarily own the copyright as certain rights, including the typography, will have been assigned to the publisher.
- Be wary of relying on sources you do not own the rights for – you will need permission
- Do not upload material to an online environment without appropriate copyright clearance
- Copyright clearance may be available through the Eoffprints service
If you require further information regarding copyright please email email@example.com
Journal articles/Book chapters
No part of a journal article or book, paper or electronic, can be scanned and included in an online environment without first obtaining the permission from the copyright holder. This includes graphs, tables, diagrams, photographs and other images which may be part of a journal article. It may be possible to make links to journals to which the University of Sheffield has a subscription or link to the top level of a purchased ebook in the Library catalogue.
The Library provide an online reading list management service with stable links to all online material, including eoffprints, providing seamless access both on and off campus.
For further details contact Sharon Cocker, Learning Resources Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org, (0114) 222-7256)
No image, paper or electronic, can be scanned and included in an online environment without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder. Images, including photographs, are easy to download from internet or to scan but they are subject to copyright and belong to the person who created them. You may be able to source some copyright free images from these sites:
Many sites e.g. Flickr, allow you to use images subject to a Creative Commons (CC) licence - all CC licences mean the copyright owner must be attributed and there may be other restrictions on its use. You can create your own images or you can try and obtain permission from the rightsholder. Perform a cross-site search which includes Google Images, Flickr and Wikimedia Commons from:
Users have to abide by terms and conditions of use and can agree to this through an online “click to use” licence. Unrestricted copying of certain categories of material is permitted: most material on UK central government websites can be used for educational purposes without permission. For more details see:
Copyright in sounds, recordings or broadcasts lasts for 50 years after the broadcast (this will change to 70 years on 1 November 2013). Commercially bought audio CD´s can be used in class, but should not be uploaded to an online environment. If using sound recordings from a website please check licence terms and conditions first.
You may be able to source some Copyright free sound and music from one of these sites:
Off air recordings
The University of Sheffield holds an ERA (Educational Recording Agency) Licence and recordings and copies of recordings made under this licence are to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes. Recordings may not be shown to fee paying audiences or non-registered students. They may be made on-site, at home by staff or by a designated third party on behalf of the establishment. Details of the ERA licence are on their website at:
You can record different extracts or part of a programme. You can also compile extracts from different programmes on one tape. However, the adaptation, alteration or mutilation of a recording is not permitted under the ERA Licence. This includes the separation of soundtrack from images, the substitution of another commentary, or any alteration which would change the original concept of the work. You are able to make as many copies as you like of recordings made under the ERA Licence as long as the above conditions are met, that copies made are not sold or hired out and that these recordings are not shown to an audience that has paid to see the performance. Under the ERA Licence you cannot copy tapes or videos bought in the shops.
In addition to the ERA Licence the University of Sheffield must also adhere to the Open University licensed off-air recording scheme. CiCs are responsible for keeping a record of all OU programmes currently being used at the University of Sheffield and for administering the system to ensure the OU receive the correct annual fees due to them. More information can be obtained from:
email : email@example.com
Catch-up TV Services
The BBC and Channel 4 have made changes to the terms and conditions applicable to some online services. These allow establishments holding a current ERA licence to record and access BBC content in relevant BBC online services for educational use under the terms of the ERA licence and apply non-commercial educational use within the scope of the ERA licence to access 4oD content on Channel 4 online services on conditions that would otherwise be limited to personal non-commercial use. Age of consent and viewer guidance terms continue to apply to any educational access.
Video (including YouTube) and uploading to uPlayer
It is important to realise that, whilst playing a television recording made under the above licensed schemes, or using a commercially produced video or CD, is permitted for educational purposes in a classroom, the same programme, film, video or CD cannot be made available in a VLE without clearance from the copyright holders.
- Commercially purchased DVDs should not be uploaded in an online environment unless you get permission from the copyright holder
- The copyright in videos that you might show from sites such as YouTube, iTunes U or University of Sheffield uPlayer resides with the creator of the video, so again you would need to obtain permission directly from them (YouTube or iTunes U cannot grant this on their behalf). Some of these materials may be available for educational use or under a CC licence
- Television programmes can be recorded off-air to show in class but unfortunately cannot be made available for viewing online off campus under the University’s current ERA licence
- When including pictures, sounds and video clips in an online environment it should be remembered that each file will have its own copyright and sometimes more than one copyright
- It is good practice to ensure that links to external sites open in new windows to avoid ‘passing off’ another site as your own
- If you want to download material you will need to check the copyright statement on each website
- You will need to request permission unless terms and conditions specifically allow downloading/multiple copying
If you want to make a link to a journal article remember that the Library signs a licence for each electronic product /resource to which we subscribe. Licences must be adhered to. For further information see Licence terms and conditions.
- You will need to use a stable or persistent URL to make a link e.g. in MOLE. The Library can provide advice on how to do this.
- You must abide by the ejournal licence
- Ensure you link to articles rather than saving local copies in MOLE or uSpace
Social Networking Sites
There is increased use of Social Networking sites by staff and students e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr etc.. Please consider the following points with regard to copyright:
- When you upload to a social network you do not lose copyright in your own content but you may be agreeing to licence your content to the network by signing up so that they can use it in certain ways set out in their terms and conditions
- You must not upload anything in which you do not own the content or without permission from the rightsholder
- Check the terms and conditions of any social network you sign up to carefully
- Be aware of what personal information you are making available online
- Think carefully about contributions to social networking sites, as most of this information is publicly available, unless you change your privacy settings
- Avoid inappropriate language and jokes and be wary of making anything available which could be considered defamatory
There is further advice on copyright in Web 2.0 applications here: