University licences for copying

University licences for copying

The University of Birmingham participates in a number of licensing schemes that allow staff to access and use third party material over and above the limits of the ‘fair dealing’ exceptions.

Why is this relevant to me?

The licences explain how the materials may be used within a teaching and study context. Once you are aware of what you are allowed to do under a certain licence you can use the materials accordingly.

Current licences

For information on the current licences, please see the following sections:


The University holds over 300 licences relating to electronic journals and archives.  These licences generally allow the University to provide individual access for authorised users via the secured University network, but also to use the licensed content for teaching purposes e.g. multiple photocopying, downloading of articles for use in lecture presentations, or upload to Canvas.FindIt provides guidance as to the key terms and conditions of each licence via the icon.  Clicking on the icon will reveal a pop up box as in the example below.

'I' Licence information icon that is displayed on FindIt

The licence information displayed explains the main permitted uses.

An image showing the information that is displayed when the 'I' Licence Information icon is clicked.  The image shows; Licences Notes. Save a copy:permitted. Print a copy: permitted. CANVAS (VLE)use: yes. Course pack print: permitted. ILL print or fax: PeIf your proposed use is not covered within this window, an alternate method for checking related permissions is via the CLA HE licence- see below.

Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA)

The University holds a CLA Higher Education (HE) licence which covers photocopying and scanning of certain materials provided that they are covered by the licence.  It allows us to copy the larger amount from 1 chapter/ article or 10% of the entire publication for each module.

If you scan items there are some formalities you need to follow, one of which is the need to ensure the scan is reported to the Library each year, however the ResourceList system makes this easy.  Plus the Digitisation Service will even do the scanning for you.

Full details about the CLA can be found on the photocopying and scanning pages.


Educational Recording Agency (ERA)

The University holds a licence from the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) which allows staff to record television and radio programmes 'off-air' for use in teaching. The recording can be shown during any class and can also be embedded in Power Point presentations or on Canvas.  The ERA Licence covers:

  • All BBC television and radio (all channels), plus programmes owned by The Open University, and iPlayer
  • All ITV and ITV Player; 
  • All Channel Four, and 4 on Demand;
  • All Five Television and Demand 5;
  • Discovery Channel;
  • National Geographic.

This means in effect that any programme from these broadcasters may be recorded off-air on University premises or at home without infringing copyright, provided that the re-showing is solely for educational purposes.

Content covered by the ERA licence is not currently accessible outside of the UK unfortunately.


The University also subscribes to the BoB (Box of Broadcasts) - a streaming service that provides access to over 65 free-to-air channels including those listed above and many more.  BoB allows you to access material held within the archive and to pre-schedule the recording of any programme available through Freeview up to one week in advance. 

BoB includes useful features like the ability to create playlists, to clip programmes to specific sections relevant to your teaching and the ability to incorporate content directly within ResourceLists or the VLE. Once you have registered, access is via your standard University username and password.  

As Bob relies on the ERa licence access and use outside of the UK is not permitted.

More details can be found on LRATs webapge

Making your own recordings

You can make your own recordings but the BoB service is probably better and there are various administrative hurdles to deal with if you do.  LRAT can organise having an off-air recording made for you using into their online booking system and clicking the special off-air recordings link.

Where you need to make a recording yourself, please download the proforma for ERA licence returns (Word - 34KB), complete this as appropriate, and then return within fourteen days of the recording to

All ERA recordings must be clearly and appropriately labelled on the outer case and the tape or disc with the following four items:

  • Date (when the recording was made);
  • Name of the broadcaster;
  • Programme title;
  • The wording ‘This recording is to be used only for educational and  non-commercial purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence’.

Any recordings held in digital formats are required to display an opening credit which must be viewed or listened to before access to the ERA Recording is permitted. This must include the above programme data and the above statement referring to the ERA licence.

Using other recordings

We are also allowed to play films for the purposes of instruction at an educational establishment irrespective of any copyright notices to the contrary provided that the audience is only staff or students.  Public showings will require a separate licence.  Contact for information.


NLA Media Access

The University holds a licence from NLA Media Access which permits the making of multiple photocopies of articles appearing in national and many regional newspapers.

The NLA licence permits photocopying, scanning and digitial copying forom certain publications, up to a limit of 250 copies of one article or cutting per issue for the purposes of student teaching.  Use on Canvas is also permitted.  It covers all of the UK national newspapers (including the London based Evening Standard), and a number of regional newspapers including the following local papers:

  • Birmingham Post
  • Birmingham Evening Mail
  • Sunday Mercury - Birmingham
  • Metro - Birmingham

For full details of what is covered please see the NLA website


Ordnance Survey (OS)

The University holds an Ordnance Survey (OS) Educational Copyright Licence which permits the photocopying of portions of OS maps for educational, research or teaching purposes or any activities connected with education, research or teaching (but for no other purposes).

All copies should acknowledge the OS and the fact that the source is Crown Copyright.

See the Ordnance Survey website for more information.

We also have access to several Digimap services for staff and students.

Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons logo

Creative Commons Licences (CCL) are pre-prepared licences intended to help copyright holders distribute their work, defining how it can be used by others without the need to grant bespoke permissions each time someone wants to use it. 

Creative Commons, a not-for-profit organisation based in the US, has produced a number of model licences which authors can apply ‘as given’ or adapted to their requirements.  The licences contain four main elements:

  • Attribution (BY)- You must credit the licensor of the work.
  • Non Commercial (NC)- You can only use the work for non-commercial purposes
  • No Derivatives (ND)- You may not create adaptations of the work.
  • Share alike (SA)- You may create adaptations of the work, but these must be under the same licence as this work.

These elements then combine to form six licences plus a final CC Zero or public domain licence which purports to waive all rights to the material it is applied to.

  • Attribution-Only (CC-By)
  • Attribution-No-Derivatives (CC-By-ND)
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial No–Derivatives (CC-By-NC-ND)
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial (CC-By-NC)
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike (CC-By-NC-SA)
  • Attribution-Share Alike (CC-By-SA)
  • Public Domain (CC-0)

For a useful overview see Briefing Paper (PDF - 73KB) by JISC Legal.

University of Birmingham staff attaching a Creative Commons licence

University Regulation 3.16 outlines the position regarding the ownership of intellectual property generated in the course of employment at the University. Section 5.4 covers the same where the creator is a registered student.

The University is keen to ensure that neither it nor its employees are denied rights to which they are entitled, or dispose of those rights without due consideration of all circumstances. Even though in law the University has copyright in work produced by its employees in the course of their duties, it actively assists in the publication process and very rarely asserts its ownership of that work. Additionally, in some circumstances the University may intervene in order to prevent an author from compromising through ‘prior publication’ any rights to future patenting that may be jointly shared.

There may be circumstances when releasing material under a CC licence is appropriate.  Providing that you own the copyright in ALL of the material contained in a work, you should consult the Creative Commons website for full details.  Aspects to consider include the licence to be applied and how you would like to be attributed in the copyright statement, including your association to the University. 

Once you have decided on a licence type please contact for a final review before you release the material as we may be able to offer advice and guidance.  

Open Access publication

Open Access (OA) publications often use a CCL laying out the terms under which material may be re-used.  Authors retain ownership, any moral rights and must also be credited. Equally, if you wish to include someone else’s OA material in your teaching materials or publications, the applicable CCL will clarify your options.

Research funding councils within their OA policies will often specify which CCL is to be used on outputs arising from the funded research.  Similarly, journals will often have OA policies covering publication.

For more information including funder OA policies please see the ‘Disseminating Your Research’ section.