Copyright for students

When studying at Portsmouth you'll be using and creating works protected by copyright. This page gives you the general information you need to help you in your studies and future career.

Using other people’s copyright works

Creative works such as books, photographs, music and film are all protected by copyright automatically when written down, recorded or saved.

This gives the copyright owner the right to decide what you're allowed to do with that work. You should make sure your use of copyright works is legal.

If you infringe copyright by using someone else’s work unfairly and without permission you may be liable for legal action.

Licensed resources

Most of the books, journals, databases and software you use in your studies are protected by copyright. Your tuition fees help us pay licence fees that allow us to provide you with the resources you need.

These licences allow you to access these resources for your studies, but don’t allow you to share them with others online.

You may want to copy or share works that are not covered by a licence paid for by the University. In some cases you'll need permission from the copyright holder:

In other cases your activity may be covered by copyright exceptions even if you don't have a licence.

Copyright exceptions

There are exceptions to copyright that allow you to make copies of copyright works and use them when writing coursework, essays and other projects without a licence. For example, you may need to:

It's important that your use of copyright material is fair to the copyright owner and that you always credit the author or producers of the works you're using.

If you have specific questions about using other people’s copyright in a fair and legal way, we can help.

Copyright in your work

You own the copyright in the original scholarly work you create at Portsmouth. This includes personal lecture notes, essays and examination responses in any form.

If you create copyright material in collaboration with others, you'll share the copyright ownership. If you create work with significant input from Portsmouth staff, the University may own the copyright in it, which will affect what you are able to do with it. Contact us if you need advice.

Copyright and your thesis

If you're a PhD student and have used other people's work in your thesis follow the guidance on including copyright or sensitive material when depositing your thesis into Pure.

You'll also need to consider the options for making your thesis available Open Access.

Copyright infringement and plagiarism

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing, but you should avoid doing either.

Work you submit for assessment must be your own original work.


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.