Copyright for lecturers

Teaching and learning would be impossible without the use of copyright protected material. This page helps you understand how to use copyright material legally in your teaching.

When you share copyright material such as readings, videos and sound recordings with students this material needs to be covered by:

In many cases the University pays for licences which allow educational use. But there will also be times when you need to rely on exceptions.

Where there is no licence or exception it's possible that you or the University may be liable for copyright infringement. The risk of infringement when providing teaching resources is usually low, but can lead to financial or reputational damage. The guidance on this page will help you manage this risk and demonstrate good practice in use of copyright material.

Licences that allow use of content for teaching 

We have a number of licences that enable use of teaching materials.

Electronic library resources

Our electronic library resources all come with licences that allow you and your students to access content using your UoP computer account.

Collective licences

We have collective copyright licences which allow copying and sharing of certain types of copyright work:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licences are becoming increasingly important in teaching as a way of creating and sharing educational resources.

You can use Creative Commons licenced works in your teaching without having to pay or ask for permission. There are different types of Creative Commons licence, so make sure you're aware of the restrictions the copyright owner has applied, such as the ‘NoDerivatives’ option, which prevents you from making an adaptation of the work.

What to do if there's no licence

There may be cases where you want to use a copyright work in your teaching that isn't covered by a licence. You'll then need to:

Copyright exceptions for teaching

Copyright exceptions allow you to include copyright material in your teaching without the permission of the copyright holder. To rely on copyright exceptions you must abide by the concept of fair dealing. This means you must:

There are a number of copyright exceptions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act that relate to teaching. The most relevant to you as a teacher are:

The sections below show how you can rely on licences and exceptions to address copyright in relation to the most common types of teaching activity.

Uploading content to Moodle

Under copyright law you can share the same types of content with your students online that you're allowed to present in a lecture theatre, as long as the use is:

Teaching slides

As you create PowerPoint slides or equivalent teaching presentations, make sure you properly credit any images, text or musical quotations. You need to do this regardless of whether you're relying on a licence or on a copyright exception.


When adding electronic content to a reading list, link to the original digital resource. Don't download and re-upload it to Moodle, as many e-resource licences don't allow this.

Scans from books and journals

If you want to share extracts from published print books and journals use the Library scanning service to create official digital copies. The CLA licence fees paid by the University can then be distributed to the author and publisher.

Creative Commons licensed content

If the content you want to share is covered by a Creative Commons licence you can upload it to Moodle.

But if you're creating a new copyright work based on existing Creative Commons works, you need to consider whether this is a derivative work and therefore if the licence restricts this.

Commercial use

Some licences restrict commercial use. The University takes the view that just because students pay tuition fees it does not make teaching activity commercial. This means you can share material marked for "non-commercial" use in most teaching contexts. CHECK

Accessible copying

If you or your students have a disability, you or they may make adaptations to copyright works to make them accessible. We provide tools and guidance to help you make sure your teaching materials are accessible.

Content capture (Panopto)

The same principles that apply to Moodle also apply to Panopto.

You can:

For further information, see our Copyright Guidelines for Content Capture

Performing works in class

Showing recorded media

You can show films or play recorded audio to students without needing a licence from the copyright owner in:

This is because there's a specific copyright exception which covers the performing, playing or showing work in the course of the activities of an educational establishment.

There is more information about this in the section Types of Material.

Performing musical, literary or dramatic works

You may perform or get others to perform musical, literary or dramatic works in front of an audience without a licence as long as these are closed sessions for your students. If the audience includes other people, such as family, friends or members of the public, you may need a licence.

Open educational resources

Many teachers are happy to share their learning resources with others under open licences.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are typically released with Creative Commons licences that allow the copyright owner to authorise others to share their works free of charge. If the copyright owner wants to, they can give others the right to adapt and even commercialise their work, but sometimes they choose to restrict these permissions. The OER Commons is a digital library of open educational resources.

The creation and dissemination of copyright content at the University of Portsmouth is subject to our Intellectual Property (IP) Policy (pdf).

Use of software in teaching

It is important that you only use licensed software when teaching.

AppsAnywhere is the University Apps store (the Portal) which allows students and staff to download software and apps for study and work – available anywhere, on and off campus, anytime.


We provide advice and specific guidance on copyright law to support you in your work and study. If you have any questions about copyright, email:


The content of this page has been adapted from the University of Kent copyright guidance that is licensed under CC-BY.