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Copyright, How-To-Guide

Copyright and the VLE

Copyright and the virtual learning environment.

You are able to share the same material on a VLE, such as Moodle, as you are in the lecture theatre or classroom. However, any book scans need to be done by the library.

Below is a summary of best practice for using resources on the VLE and minimising risk to claims of copyright infringement.



There is no legislation as of yet that prevents anyone linking to materials online. So we’re always keen to say that if you want to provide access to something online to students, provide a link rather than a copy of the document.

The only way that it is illegal is if you are allowing someone to circumvent restrictions. Or if you are linking to a page that has infringed copyright. This is why it’s important to be careful of YouTube videos—people could copy films or music and put them up onto YouTube illegally, and by linking to that video, you could also be in violation of copyright.

Websites often have material such as pdfs that you may want to include in your modules. Again, best practice is to provide the link to that website rather than downloading the pdf and uploading it onto the VLE.

Just make sure that the content on the website does not infringe copyright laws. The website owner either needs to own the copyright in the material they have on the website or have permission to share it.

Journal Articles

When you want to add journal articles to the VLE, remember that it is always best to provide a hyperlink. If you get the article from one of the library databases, you merely need to provide the perma link to that article.

Scans of Book Chapters

All digital scanning must be reported to the CLA. For this reason, if you would like a scanned chapter of a book added to your module, you need to contact the library to do the scanning for you.

Scans can only be made from books and journals that the library owns, and only from CLA approved publications.

Any books that the library scans for your module will have a copyright page added and the date of the scan. You can add the chapters you wish to scan to the reading list digitisation request.


There are two exceptions in the law that allow films to be streamed for educational purposes. There is section (34) which allows for the performance of a play or showing of a work in the course of activities of an educational establishment. And there is section (32), Illustration for instruction which is the much broader exception that covers the use of any copyrighted materials, such as films, if used for the sole purpose of instruction.

This means that you can show entire films or film clips to students or staff as long as it is for a course of study and not just for fun, such as film nights.

The only problem with the law as it is currently written, is that it is not clear whether online use is permitted. Therefore there is some degree of risk when showing films online, such as those that have been ripped from DVDs. To learn more about the current copyright debate from an HE perspective, see: Copyright Guidance for Using Films in Online Teaching During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

To avoid unnecessary risk, always check the streaming services provided by the library or your school first to see if the film is available to link to from the VLE.

If you need further assistance, send an email to or ask your academic liaison librarian.


Given our ERA license, lecturers may copy and show recordings of UK broadcasts. However, if you do record the content yourself, say from television or radio, you will need to provide an opening credit with the name, time, and date of broadcast.  

**It’s important to note that the ERA license only covers the UK now that we are no longer part of the European Union. This means that you cannot share broadcast content with students living overseas, ergo you cannot upload copies of broadcasts onto the VLE just in case a student attempts to view the content while not in the UK. Instead you will need to provide a link to Bob or BBC iPlayer, etc.


Music recordings from non-ERA licensed material, so non-broadcasts, can be shared for educational purposes under the illustration for instruction exception. However, there is still the same risk that is involved with sharing copies of films on the VLE.

To avoid risk, you can check freely available websites for music and sound.  


If you would like to copy digitized content, such as PowerPoint presentations made by others, this is fine as long as you provide attribution. However, if the presentation is available on the internet, it’s better just to provide the link. The same goes for recordings of presentations. It is important to note, however, that lecture recordings are not specifically regulated by the UK copyright act.

Screen Recordings

You may wish to make screen recordings to show students how to use certain software or navigate their way around the internet.

Sharing recordings of certain software can be problematic if stored on a public platform such as YouTube. To avoid issues, either upload onto Ponopto, or look for official instructional content on software websites or Linked-in-Learning.


Images can be uploaded onto the VLE, but you must attribute them. If they have a Creative Commons License, provide details of that license.

Newspaper Articles

You can upload newspaper articles to the VLE or provide a link due to the NLA license.

OS Maps and Sheet Music

The university does not currently have licenses to copy ordinance survey maps or sheet music. Therefore you should not share copies of this material on the VLE.