The University holds licences from a range of copyright owners which allow staff and students to use the content for our research and teaching purposes.  These licences all have different terms which specify how the resource can be used. It is important to remember that exceptions to the law will always come ahead of any contractual terms. However the terms of individual licences are useful, as they ordinarily allow more than these legal exceptions would.

Copyright and Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence

The licence we hold with the CLA permits staff and students to photocopy and scan certain books which are both covered by the licence and held within our collection.  Copies can be made under the following conditions:

  • The publisher of the book in question is on the CLA’s approved list. The licence covers most books published in the UK and some additional international territories. You can check whether the book you would like to scan is covered by using the CLA Permissions Checker.
  • You can copy up to the following amount for each course:
    • 10% or
    • one chapter of a complete book
    • one article from a journal or set of conference proceedings
    • one short story, poem or play not exceeding ten pages in length (in the case of anthology)
    • one entire report of a single case in a published report of judicial proceedings
    • We must hold a copy in our library collections or which we have legally borrowed through an interlibrary loan.

All scans made under the CLA licence must be reported to the CLA at the end of every year.  Using our Resource List system to request a scan for your module makes compliance with the CLA licence easy, as this reporting takes place automatically.

Please contact the Digitisation Service for further advice on the CLA licence, scanning or photocopying.

Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence

The ERA licence allows staff and students to use and record media broadcasts (TV and radio) for educational purposes. They can be shown to a class, embedded in PowerPoint, or hosted on Canvas. The ERA licence cannot be applied outside the UK.

The programmes covered are from the following broadcasters:

  • all BBC television and radio programmes, including programmes owned by the Open University and iPlayer
  • all ITV and ITV Player programmes
  • all Channel 4 and All 4 programmes
  • all 5 Television and On Demand 5 programmes
  • National Geographic programmes
  • Discovery Channel programmes

The University also subscribes to Learning on Screen, a streaming service which offers archive programmes from the above providers and more, and can be added to ResourceLists where required.  These programmes are available for staff and students as long as their use is educational and happens within the UK.  

Films can also be played for the purposes of instruction provided that the audience is only staff or students and it is for educational purposes.

If you intend to show a programme to members of the public or to students outside of class time for recreational purposes, i.e. as a film club or public event held by the University, you will need to purchase a Film Bank licence.

NLA (Newspapers) Licence

The NLA Licence allows copying from 500 UK newspapers.

These copies can be shared with  students in the course of their academic study.

The NLA Licence permits the following from these 500 UK newspapers:

  • Printing  newspaper articles
  • Photocopying newspaper articles (for study packs for instance).
  • Scanning and uploading newspaper articles to an internal and secure intranet or VLE (e.g. Canvas).
  • Emailing copies of newspaper articles to students and staff .
  • Copying for occasional commercial purposes, including staff sharing copies on an ad hoc basis.

To check if a newspaper is covered by the licence check the ‘UK Newspapers’ worksheet (Excel - 1.86 MB)

Electronic Books, Journals and Databases

The University holds almost 400 licences with providers of our electronic resources. To view the licence terms for a subscribed electronic resource you are using, using FindIt@Bham, click on the title of the article or database you are trying to use. Next to each provider of the resource or article you’ll see a box which says ‘Show Licence’ which will bring up a list of the resource’s licence terms.

The terms should be clear and should tell you what you can or cannot do with the content. If you have any questions please contact to discuss your needs.

Creative Commons Licences

Creative Commons (CC) licences are open licences that enable works to be shared and used freely without the need to ask the owner/ creator for permission.  They are normal licences so they have certain conditions attached to them but the terms are written in plain easy to understand, and comply with, language.

For a University context, research content made available through Open Access and educational materials via Open Educational Resources frequently use CC licences to enable the sharing, although many creators now use them to promote and share their content publicly.

Most search engines have 'usage rights' filters which enable results to be filtered by open licences.  However do always click through to the source to confirm the open licence is correctly applied, as sometimes search results are misleading

There are six different CC licences types available each detailing what can and cannot be done with the content. More information can be found via the CC website.

Bespoke Permissions

In some cases where a licence nor a legal exception will cover your reuse of a work, it may be necessary to get permission directly from a publisher. Some publishers will offer permission for free if the use is non-commercial, where others may charge a fee. You can usually find their contact details on the publisher's website. Sometimes publishers will provide a permissions form for you to fill out.

Be sure to outline how you intend to use the work, how long you need the permission for and who the work will be made available to. For further advice on seeking direct permissions please contact



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