Copyright - types of material

This page provides more guidance about some specific types of material that you may wish to use in your teaching, research or study.
Topics include Images, Film and Video Essays. 

Images (Artistic Works)

Photographs, paintings and diagrams are defined as artistic works in CDPA. Copyright restricts the copying of "the work as a whole or any substantial part of it". In the case of images and diagrams it is difficult to apply a defence of insubstantial since the whole image or the most important parts are normally the areas of interest being copied. Therefore, unless the image that you wish to reproduce is in the public domain or has been made available under a Creative Commons Licence, you will need to seek permission for its reuse.

When someone creates a photograph, they will own the copyright in that image. They will still own the rights when that photograph is put online and anyone who uses it without permission will infringe those rights. Copyright enforcement services such as Copytrack, ImageRights and Pixsy are used by photographers to perform reverse image searches and find other uses of their work online. Pixsy, for example, has formed a partnership with the popular photo sharing site flickr. Therefore it is important to use images with care.

To avoid infringing copyright (and a potentially expensive claim), you are encouraged to adopt one of the following strategies when sourcing images:

  • Take your own photos
  • Directly ask the rights owner for explicit permission
  • Find a public domain or free image on sites such as Unsplash or Pixabay (see Finding Free Content), or try searching one of the image collections available from the Library
  • Use Creative Commons to find an image that is free to use (with some rights reserved)
  • Use the CLA Licence
  • Rely on a copyright exception

If you use an image under a Creative Commons licence, make sure you read the licence conditions and correctly acknowledge the source. If you don't meet the conditions of the licence then you will be liable for copyright infringement. The example on the right shows a properly acknowledged image. Note that it must include a link to the original photo, a link to the creator's profile page, plus a link to the Creative Commons licence deed.

Members of staff can copy images (including book covers) from publications that are covered by the CLA Licence. You can copy a whole-page visual image, or extract a part-page visual image from a page that may also include text and other images (a process often referred to a ‘disembedding’). Digital copies that include images have to be reported to the CLA, which means following our procedure for requesting a digitization. However, you can copy a disembedded image without it having to be reported it to the CLA, provided it is covered by the Licence terms. Book covers can also be copies without having to report to the CLA.

If the image you want to use is solely for the purpose of teaching then you may be able to rely on a copyright exception. The reproduction of whole images for use in presentations, for example, is common practice and is largely covered by sections 30 and 32 of the CDPA.


Using film in the classroom

Can you show a film in the classroom? Yes, this is allowed, provided that only the students and the teacher view the film and it is for the purpose of instruction. Here we rely on section 34 of the CDPA which states that the showing of a film before an audience at an educational establishment for the purpose of instruction is not classed as a public performance and therefore does not infringe copyright.

Learning on Screen has published the Code of fair practice for the use of audiovisual work in film education that helps UK film educators make informed decisions around the lawful use of copyright protected films for educational purposes.

Using film during online teaching

Where do you stand if you want to play the film online? This was a likely scenario during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, for example. For a thorough evaluation of this topic see Hudson, E. 2020. Copyright Guidance for Using Films in Online Teaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic, from which much of the following advice is taken.

Although playing a film online is not considered a public performance, it may involve other rights such as reproduction or communication to the public. Section 34 does not cover these rights,therefore your options are:

  • to use authorised content, or
  • rely on a copyright exception

Using authorised content 

Staff are advised, whenever possible, to use one of the collections to which we subscribe, such as BoB or Kanopy. Be aware that if you link to content, such as through YouTube, you may be accessing unauthorised material and therefore risk infringing copyright.

Using the section 32 copyright exception

Hudson (2020) has suggested that HEIs might be able to rely on the illustration for instruction copyright exception (see above) when showing entire feature films online. One approach she recommends is to "recreate as closely as possible the circumstances that exist for in-person screenings that are covered by section 34. This means that the HEI needs to ensure that these films are accessible only to its students and only for teaching purposes". Following Hudson's advice, the following practice is recommended:

  • If you wish to watch the entire feature film, ensure that it is justified by the educational purpose.
  • Only make the film accessible via the VLE. Students must not be able to download films.
  • Provide a sufficient acknowledgement. The title of the film, the producer and the director could be indicated on the VLE, shown as a message when the film is played, or included on any PowerPoint presentation or handout that accompanies the class in which the film is taught.
  • Only make the film accessible for a limited period of time, and only to students registered on the module to which the film relates.
  • Monitor student use.
  • Develop a Terms of Use that appears whenever the student watches the film. For example:
    • This film is made pursuant to section 32 of the CDPA
    • You may watch this film for education and study purposes only
    • You must not download, copy or distribute copies of this film or show it to others
  • Own a lawful copy of the film (ideally owned by the University of Portsmouth rather than a member of staff)

Video Essays

 Learning on Screen has produced an Introductory Guide to Video Essays that incorporates a section on Copyright Considerations.

'Wastwater' licensed under CC BY 2.0

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