If I include images in a password-protected VLE, do I need to worry about copyright?


The recent (June 2014) changes to copyright law have broadened the permissions regarding what can be used for educational purposes. Fair dealing copying for purposes of illustration has been introduced.

You are allowed to use images in the VLE without infringing copyright provided that:

  • the copy is made for the purposes of instruction for a non-commercial purpose
  • the copy is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise)
  • use of third-party images are to fair dealing amounts only
  • students and staff are only able to access them via a secure (password-protected) network

More information

  • instructors can now use digital technologies, e.g. smartboards or the VLE, for copying 
  • lower resolution images or portions of a high resolution image are more likely to be deemed ‘fair’. It would be unlikely to be deemed ‘fair dealing’ to use the whole of a high-resolution image for this purpose.
  • you can use images from a website under the new exception to the law, but it would be good practice to check the terms of any licence that may exist. Any requirement for payment, for example, would imply that usage would not be ‘fair dealing’


Despite these positive changes to the law, we would still recommend that you use copyright free images or those licensed under Creative Commons for use in teaching.

To find out more about finding copyright-free images, check the audio-visual pages of the Copyright Guide.


  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • Views 250
  • Answered By Elaine Pocklington

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