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Copyright: Copyright for Teaching

This guide provides information on copyright in relation to library collections and their use for teaching, learning and research.

Photocopying Materials

As an academic you may want to photocopy or download material for teaching purposes, and for course packs, e.g. book chapters, journal articles, information or images from the web.

UCD pays for a higher education licence which permits you to make print and digital copies of extracts from printed books / journals for registered UCD students, including distance learners. 

 This Licence from the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA) covers the creation of:

  1. Digital copies of limited extracts from Irish copyright protected printed books, journals and magazines  - where UCD already holds the print copy
  2. Multiple paper photocopies of limited extracts from some copyright protected materials published both in Ireland and abroad
  3. Copies of photographs, illustrations, diagrams or charts where they are included in the body of the extract or article being copied.

Placing Material on the VLE

Materials which you, or UCD, are the creators /writers of, and where you hold copyright, may be used freely. Anything else is subject to copyright restrictions.

Remember that copyright for articles which you yourself have written does not necessarily belong to you. The terms of publishing contracts often mean that authors assign rights to their publishers. 

You cannot scan from books, journals or other printed material without the permission of publishers. This includes diagrams and illustrations. 

Check the catalogue in case the Library already has online access via its journal subscription or e-books collections. If so, use the link to the electronic copy.

For Irish published materials:

  • Scanning and uploading of Irish printed publications to UCD intranet / VLE is now permitted for some materials under the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency licence.
  • Check if copying /scanning is allowed for the item you want to upload (a list of Irish copyright works covered by the ICLA licence is available below)
  • Digital copies can only be uploaded to the VLE where UCD already owns the item in print format. 
  • If scanning is allowed, then Photographs, illustrations, diagrams etc. may also be copied where they are included in the body of the extract or article.
  • Scanned materials must be held on UCD’s VLE or Intranet

Important: Non Irish material cannot be digitised without permission of author/publishers. If the material already exists in a digital format, provide a link to it rather than scanning it.

Teaching staff may make articles from Library e-journal subscriptions and e-book collections available to students by adding links to Blackboard.

Users of e-journals/e-books are subject to the terms of licences negotiated between UCD Library and publishers/suppliers. Articles/chapters may be downloaded only for private study or research and never for commercial purposes. 

  • Always provide links to the e-journals and e-books rather than uploading a PDF copy of the item.
  • It is usually not permissible to scan and upload a personal copy of an article into Blackboard - whether it’s from a UCD Library subscription, from another institution, or if obtained commercially.
  • If you are making your own published work available on Blackboard, make sure you, and not the publisher, hold the copyright before uploading it to Blackboard.

Material on web sites, although apparently "freely available", is subject to copyright restrictions too.  Websites often give details about what is permissible in terms of linking to and reproducing material from that site. It is usually found in the "terms and conditions" or "copyright" pages or "about us" section of the site. 

As a general rule…

  • It is usually acceptable to provide links to web-based material 
  • Content of web pages should not be copied and uploaded to Blackboard, nor should text, images or any other material be copied and pasted without the permission of the web site owner. 
  • Link to home pages wherever possible. ‘Deep- links’ are less stable and URLs may change.
  • Make students aware of the copyright restrictions of web-based material. Wherever possible, clearly acknowledge the source (listing URL and copyright holders) of any information you use.

Many YouTube clips are placed on the site illegally, without the permission of copyright holders. 

  • Avoid downloading, streaming or even embedding material from YouTube unless you are sure that you have permission to do so. 
  • If YouTube clips have been added to the site by someone other than the organisation or individual with whom it originated it's likely to have been put there illegally. 
  • The safest way to make third party material on other websites available to students is to give them a link (by e-mail or by adding to the link to Blackboard). Students can then click on the link and view the material in question for themselves.

As with written text, images are subject to copyright in their own right. This includes photographs, diagrams and other illustrations, whether from printed or electronic sources like the Internet.

Sharing images, including making them available on the UCD Intranet or Blackboard environment  is not permitted unless:

  • You are the copyright holder
  • You have permission of the copyright holder to do so.

It is always important to consider copyright when using video-based material to support teaching and learning.

Lecturers making their own video (of a lecture, for example) might assume that they automatically hold copyright of such material, but there can be pitfalls. Care should be taken not to include material which originates in other sources: diagrams from books, for example, or accompanying music. In order to legally include this type of material, permission to do so must be granted by the relevant copyright holders.

Ireland does not have an education recording licencing (ERA) scheme, or provide access to an offline /off air TV and radio recording service for higher education institutions, and which allows the use of copyrighted material for educational purposes, for example like the UK BoB (Box of Broadcasts) national scheme. 

Protecting Your own Work on the Web or on the VLE

Copyright of your original material is conferred automatically – you don't have to apply or register for it. You are entitled to prevent unauthorised copying of your work but this is difficult to enforce.

The Irish Copyright Act stipulates that the author is the first owner of the work except where a work is made during the course of employment. In this case the employer if first owner, subject to any agreement to the contrary.

Refer to sections 21-23 of the Act for further information.

Retain a paper copy /manuscript of your work, and state on it that you are asserting your ownership rights. 

Place the copyright symbol ©, year of publication and name of copyright owner on your paper manuscript. E.g. 'Copyright © 2014 John Smith'

  • Always provide good copyright information on your work / web page’s  
  • Indicate what can be copied, and for what purposes. 
  • For a ‘work’ that is being continually updated, like a website, use the copyright symbol and also show the period from first publication until the most recent year it was updated  - example 'Copyright © 2010 – 2014’
  • Material you want to protect, and don't want copied, should not be put on a web site.

VLE - Top Tips for Copyright Compliance

The copyright conditions governing digital copies are the same as the copying conditions governing paper publications.

When scanning / uploading print material to UCD’s VLE environment or UCD Intranet consider these points:

Top Tips

1. Check if copying /scanning in digital format is allowed. The ICLA has made the following lists available for checking purposes:

2. For Irish published materials, only create a digital copy if UCD already owns the print version

  • Only copy up to 10% of a book, or 1 chapter from a book. Don’t copy a summary chapter where it encapsulates the entire work.
  • Only copy up to 10% of a journal volume, or 1 article from a single issue of a journal 
  • Place the material in UCD’s intranet/VLE, making it accessible to authorised users only.
  • Only create a digital copy of a graphic or visual work when it is integral to the text being copied.
  • Display full bibliographical citation on the copied work
  • Only create copies for educational and for non-commercial purposes
  • Only store  digital copies for back-up purposes, and not for creating an electronic database/ library/ other information repository

3. Non Irish material cannot be digitised without the copyright holder's permission (author or publishers)

4. If the material already exists in a digital format, provide a link to it rather than scanning it.

5. Remember, you cannot download material from UCD Library’s electronic resources (databases/e-journals/e-books) and upload that material to the VLE. The majority of these resources are not governed by Irish Copyright Law.


  • make material available on individual websites or on the Web;
  • alter, amend or manipulate material in any way;
  • reproduce digital copies onto CD; DVD; USB key or memory stick.


The onus is on the academic to comply with the copyright requirements. Publishers can request access to the University’s VLE environment or Intranet to carry out a data collection audit.

Copyright and........

Performing a literary, dramatic or musical work is permitted, as is playing or showing a sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme at UCD for the purpose of instruction, as long as the audience is limited to teachers and students, and the event is for non-commercial purposes.

Refer to sections 53-58 of the Act for further information.

For the purposes of examinations copying of copyrighted materials is permitted with the following exceptions:

Music: Original material must be used for performance examinations. Using copies of musical scores/works is not allowed.

Thesis: Materials used in thesis are covered under ‘purposes of examination’ only. However if the thesis is subsequently published normal copyright regulations apply. 

Translating Works

If you are seeking to translate a work or portion of a work you must look for copyright permission from the copyright holder (author or publisher). This is because translation is considered to be an adaptation of the original work.


Where translation is being taught unlimited copying of the original material is permitted for instruction or in preparation for instruction. 

  • You must use the original text. Making photocopies or reproductions of copied materials is not permitted.
  • When photocopying or reprographic copying is essential then all other copyright restrictions apply, for example: up to 5% of total work, one article per journal etc. (applies to Irish and non-Irish material)


The information contained within these pages is intended as a general guideline, and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.