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Copying of Artistic Works.

'Artistic works', including paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures and collages, are all covered by copyright. Understand how such works may be incorporated into your learning or teaching materials, including the use of images in Powerpoint or Blackboard.

Please see our guide for updated information on this issue

Definition of “artistic work”

“Artistic works” are defined by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as including a graphic work, photograph, sculpture or collage, with "graphic work" further defined to include paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts or similar. The definition of a "photograph" excludes stills from a film but includes slides, negatives and microfilm. Architectural works (including buildings of any kind), and works of artistic craftsmanship, such as jewellery or pottery, are also included. Copyright subsists in all of the above, regardless of artistic quality or craftsmanship.

Duration of copyright in artistic works

For works created after 1989, the general rule is that copyright lasts for 70 years after the artist’s death, or, if anonymous, 70 years from creation or from first being made available to the public. The rules for works created before that date are more complex and you should seek further advice.

Fair Dealing

Copying of artistic works is permissible under the "fair dealing" clause (i.e. single copies made by individuals for their own private study or research for non-commercial purposes), although "fairness" in itself is open to interpretation and may be challenged. Unless a “substantial part” of a work is copied, and as long as the copying does not harm the copyright owner, infringement is unlikely. However, each case is a matter for judgement and discretion.


This includes most of what falls under the definition of "graphic works". These items may be copied if they form part of an article or if they are included in extracts from other material. The Copyright Licensing Agency Higher Education Licence for Photocopying and Scanning permits the photocopying or scanning of pages in printed works covered by its licence, whether these pages consist wholly of text, wholly of images, or a mixture of the two.

Inclusion of images in Powerpoint or Blackboard

The CLA licence permits a digital copy to be prepared of a whole page visual image, and the disembedding of a part-page visual image, if such copies are taken from works covered by its licence. Such digital copies may be used in standard presentation software packages for the purpose of illustrating a lecture or tutorial, provided only staff and a cohort of students on a particular course of study are in attendance. Similarly, such images may be included in Blackboard modules, subject to secure authentication excluding anyone other than a course user.

Images from items not covered by the CLA licence, or downloaded from the internet, should not be included in Blackboard modules or Powerpoint presentations unless there are clear permissions allowing this, or you have the authorisation of the copyright owner. The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) may be able to provide assistance in tracing the copyright owner of an artistic work. This may be particularly useful where the original artist is deceased.

Photographs and slides

It is generally acceptable for a single copy of a complete photograph or slide to be made by an individual under fair dealing for private study or research for non-commercial purposes. However, multiple copies for use in class are not permitted. You should not include photographs in Blackboard or Powerpoint unless you are the copyright owner, or have written permission. If the photograph contains pictures of individuals, it is good practice to seek their permission before using these, even if you own the copyright.

Further information

As well as the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and the Design and Artists Copyright Society, you may also find it useful to consult JISC Digital Media (formerly known as TASI) which provides advice, guidance and training to the UK's Further and Higher Education community on:

  • Creating digital media resources specifically still images, moving images and sound resources;
  • Delivering digital media resources to users;
  • Using digital media resources to support teaching, learning and research;
  • Managing both small and large scale digitisation projects.