Q. Can I use copyrighted resources to enhance my teaching materials?


Under the recent (June 2014) changes to the law, all types of copyrighted work can now be copied, as long as it is for the sole purposes of 'illustration for instruction'. This includes films, sound recordings and broadcasts as well as text and images, etc.

The following provisions apply:

  • copying must be to illustrate a teaching point and not just for decoration
  • the amounts used are still subject to ‘fair dealing’ criteria – therefore likely to be restricted to a small portion
  • what is allowed under the law can’t be overridden by the terms of the contract under which the item is supplied
  • sufficient acknowledgement is still required, for all copies in teaching materials.


  • you can put clips of a DVD into a ppt and then also put the ppt into the VLE 
  • copying is no longer restricted to being done by hand – you can now use digital technologies e.g. smartboards
  • you can now copy printed music for the purpose of performance in exam (fair dealing amounts only)
  • images can be used in powerpoint presentations, to ‘fair dealing’ amounts. 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.
  • you can now use images from a website as the ‘illustration for instruction’ exception overrides restrictions, but it would be good practice to check the terms of any licence. For example, a request for payment would imply that usage would not be ‘fair dealing’.

But note that:

previously the law covered copying for the purpose of teaching of film and film soundtrack making. This provision is now removed, so if a lecturer wants to use a work for that purpose they will need to rely on the general exception for ‘purposes of instruction’, which is restricted to ‘fair dealing’ amounts and in practice may be less than was previously allowed.


  • Last Updated Feb 03, 2016
  • Views 80
  • Answered By Rebecca Mackle

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