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Copyright is an important consideration when making any third-party material available to your students. You need to know what you can use, how you can use it and what you can’t use. Unfortunately, this is not always straightforward and sometimes there will be an element of interpretation and risk.

Current copyright law seeks to strike a balance between the rights of the rights-holder to control how their work is used, and the right to reuse in certain circumstances. It does this by providing some useful exceptions that allow you to copy and use work without having to worry about infringement. In addition, the university also holds a number of licences that allow you to copy material for your teaching, such as the CLA and ERA licences.

This section will look at the different types of content you may wish to use in your teaching materials, and provide guidance to develop high-quality teaching materials while remaining copyright compliant.

If you can’t find the answer that you’re looking for, or if you want further help, please contact us.

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Text-based teaching material

Most text-based material used in your teaching is likely to be subject to copyright restrictions. This includes photocopying or downloading material such as book chapters, journal articles or extracts of text.

The university has a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) higher education (HE) licence that covers the photocopying and scanning of most UK publications, and some US and international publishers.

Use the CLA’s permission check tool to check that the text you want to copy is not excluded.

The CLA HE licence allows:

  • multiple photocopies of limited extracts from copyright-protected printed books, journals and magazines
  • digital copies of limited extracts from copyright-protected printed books, journals and magazines.

There are also exceptions within the law that can allow you to use text in your teaching materials. Fair dealing exceptions exist for a number of cases including criticism and review, illustration for instruction and quotation.

For more information see the CLA’s HE user guidelines (PDF).

Scanned readings for modules in Canvas

Our Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) HE licence permits library staff to make scanned copies of printed or digital extracts (book chapters or journal articles) on behalf of teaching staff for uploading to VLEs, such as Canvas, or for circulating to students by other secure modes of communication.

There are limits to which texts and how much of a text can be scanned, therefore the service must be administered and monitored by library staff only to ensure compliance.

For more details, see our Scanned Readings Service page, or make a request via our online form.

The safest way to provide access to St. George’s-subscribed content in Canvas is to embed a link to the content from Hunter, the library catalogue. See our guidance on linking to library content in Hunter for more details or contact your liaison librarian.

Simply uploading PDFs into Canvas is a breach of copyright.

Accessible copies

An accessible copy is a version of a work which provides easier access for people with disabilities, for example Braille, large-print or audio version of a book produced for a visually impaired person. Copyright law and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence offer provision of making accessible versions of copyrighted material for disability support.


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