Copyright & permissions

In the UK intellectual property, copyright, designs and patents are protected by the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

All information, whether in print or electronic form, is the intellectual property and copyright of someone. Just because it is technically possible to copy material does not mean that you can do so. Copying should always take place within the provisions and limitations of the Act or the local licence you are working under.
To do anything else is an infringement of the Act.

Research and private study

The Act has provision for photocopying for private research or study. This is called 'fair dealing'.
Under the fair dealing provisions you may:

  • copy one article from any one issue of a journal or periodical
  • copy one chapter of a book or up to 5% of extracts of a book
    (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals 2003)

Extracts from a book may not make up a 'substantial part'.

Commercial purposes

The new copyright directive Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 2498 The Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 implementing EU Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society came into effect in October 2003. This makes a distinction between copying copyright material for research and private study and commercial purposes. The definition of 'commercial' has been widened. If you think you may be copying for a commercial purpose then you have to declare this and pay the appropriate copyright fee.

Electronic resources

All information on any website is covered by UK copyright law. This includes not only the text but also includes the layout, design and typography, video clips, photographs, illustrations etc. Because modern technology makes it easy to make copies of material it does not mean that you are allowed to do so without the permission of the copyright holder. If you want to use content from this website email the editor for permission. Most authors are happy to let their work be used so long as they are attributed properly.

Crown Copyright

All government publications are covered by the Act. However the government is keen to disseminate the information it produces and as such allows some latitude with copying. The conditions pertaining to each government website and/or document can be found by clicking on the copyright statement and symbol (usually at the bottom of the home page of the relevant web page).



The NHS has its own licence which allows a certain level of multiple copying of 'print to paper'. Full information will be available from your local healthcare librarian who will be able to advise you.

Higher education

Higher education has a licence which allows multiple copying of 'print to paper' under certain conditions for the provision of teaching materials. Each university or college will have a designated person responsible for administering this licence. Please talk to them about your requirements.

Multiple copying

Multiple copying by individuals is not allowed under the provisions of the Act.
Multiple copying is allowed for certain purposes under 'blanket' institutional licences. Please talk to the person responsible for your licence who can usually be contacted via your local institutional (HE/NHS) library. 
If you do not work for an institution with a licence or are an independent practitioner then you must approach the copyright holder for permission to make multiple copies.

Non-print / paper resources

This covers material on CD-ROM, multi-media, film, video, DVD, computer and the Internet. Copying of this material is not allowed under the provisions of the Act. Some copying under special licences is allowed for institutions. Please talk to your copyright co-ordinator about this.


Newspapers are not covered by fair dealing or the bulk licences. For more information on copyright and copying relating to newspapers please look at the information provided by the Newspaper Licensing Agency.

Useful resources