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Library and Learning Services

Copyright in music and films.

Understand how films, sound recordings and other broadcasts may be used in learning and teaching. The Library can support teaching staff by making off-air recordings of many programmes under licence.

Please see our guide for updated information on this issue

Off-air recordings

The University is licensed, via the Library, under two schemes which cover the recording of off-air broadcasts for educational purposes: the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) and the Open University schemes. Internet transmissions are not included in the definition of a broadcast except under very specific circumstances. Where broadcasters are not covered by either of the above schemes, their programmes may be recorded for educational purposes under the terms of the Act. As with licensed recordings, the source must be acknowledged and the educational purpose must be non-commercial.

Staff may request the making of an off-air recording by completing the "Request recording” form on the library web pages. Please give as much notice as possible to ensure that the request for a recording has been registered. This should be at least 10 days before the programme is due to be shown, as recordings are programmed the previous week. Such recordings may be added to library stock and/or be made available for retention in faculties if required only for teaching purposes.

Multiple copies and different formats of recordings may be made, subject to the terms of the licence in respect of retention, labelling etc.

Note that our current licences do not allow off-air recordings (even extracts) to be included in Blackboard modules, since these are accessible off campus.

On-demand and interactive services

On-demand and interactive services are not covered by either the licence or the act and may not be recorded at all. Scheduled internet transmissions are deemed to be broadcasts and may therefore be recorded.

Commercially produced sound recordings and films

Under the “educational exception” in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, commercially-produced sound recordings and films may be used with an audience composed entirely of students and tutors for the purposes of instruction. In these circumstances, phrases such as “For home use only” may be ignored. If the audience is broader than this, it is deemed to be a public performance and will need to be licensed. Copying of commercial sound recordings or film (including “format shifting”, for example from tape to CD, or video to DVD) is illegal, even where this is for “back-up” purposes.

Copying is permissible for the purposes of teaching film and sound recording production, as well as for examination purposes. There are no limits for such copying.

Commercially produced sound and video recordings may not be used by, for example, student film societies, without appropriate licensing, as this is deemed to be for entertainment rather than educational purposes.

Downloading or sharing music or film files from the internet is illegal without the rightsholder’s permission.

Borrowing and lending of audio and video recordings

Off-air recordings and commercially-produced films may be lent to UK-based students (and staff) for use off-site, provided that this is for educational purposes. This includes UK-based distance learners. Recordings may not be supplied either electronically or in hard-copy to students based overseas. Off-air recordings made under the terms of the Act rather than those covered by one of the licences may only be used on the premises and may not be lent out to students or transmitted to distance learners.

Broadcasting works

The legislation gives the copyright owner explicit right to prevent anyone else communicating their work to the public by electronic transmission, which includes putting material on a website. It is therefore essential to obtain permission to include someone else’s work on your website (unless created by an employee in the course of their duties). This includes students’ work; to include this on a website without their express permission would be an infringement.