Copyright is a right given to the creators of a wide range of works in material form, including text, music, photos, artwork, audio and video recordings, performances and databases. The creator has the right to control the use of the work by other people. (Protection of the original idea relies on Intellectual Property rights).
Unlike a patent or trademark, copyright does not have to be registered. Works are automatically protected, whether or not they have a copyright statement or © symbol.
The creator can transfer or sell their copyright to a publisher or distributor. Protection lasts for a further 70 years after the creator's death, for most forms of copyright material.
In the UK, copyright is governed by the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (amended in 2014). The Act sets out the exceptional circumstances in which copyright material can be reused without the rights-holder's permission, including some educational scenarios. See the sections of this guide For Teachers and For Students.
Many researchers and educators choose to share their copyright work with a licence permitting other people to copy and re-use it free-of-charge, under certain conditions. Creative Commons is a widely-adopted licensing scheme:
Publications which originate from public sector bodies in the UK are assigned the Open Government Licence, which permits copying and re-use for any purpose, with attribution.
Licensing agencies work on behalf of copyright owners by creating a legally-binding framework for use of copyright material, and collecting royalties for the rights-holder.
The University of Hull pays for institution-wide licences which permit staff to make copies for students and researchers in accordance with licence terms:
For more information about reading lists and classroom use of licensed material, see the section of this guide For Teachers.
The University does not hold any other copyright licences for the whole institution. Researchers, faculties and student societies may need to make their own arrangements to license non-scholarly activities which would otherwise infringe copyright.
Changes to Copyright Law (2014): From the UK's Intellectual Property Office, a series of guides to the law for specific scenarios including education, research, accessibility and more.
Copyright User is an independent educational resource targeted at content creators and students, with support from several UK universities. Up-to-date guidance includes how to Licence and Exploit your Work, plus animated videos and learning activities.
Copyright Cortex: created by UK academics with support from research councils and other professional bodies "to provide libraries, archives and museums with information and expert commentary on how copyright law affects the creation and management of digital cultural heritage. The resource will also be valuable for anyone who works in the Digital Humanities".
Copyright Hub: launched in 2012 with support from UK publishers and licensing agencies to "make the process of giving and getting permission – the basic building block of the copyright process – fit for purpose in the age of the Internet". Resources include template statements for rightsholders and requesting permission.