These FAQ are a brief introduction to draw your attention to copyright issues. Always check copyright statements and notices. Please be aware the information was compiled by a professional librarian and not a qualified legal professional.


What is copyright and how does it affect me?

Copyright is the law about how much you can copy from other people’s work. It gives information on the rights of the author or copyright holder to allow people to copy, perform and other use of their work. The law gives some support to allow usage for education. This is why you can make copies of parts of a work for your own study.

How much of a book can I copy?

The general rule is 5% of a book or one article in a journal. Another way to put it is you can copy an insubstantial part. The 5% is the total amount you can copy you cannot gradually copy your favourite textbook over the year.

I have been told I have to use Harvard referencing.  What is it?

Referencing is simply recording where information you are using has come from. You need to include information such as title, author etc. Harvard referencing refers to the way you format your reference. It gives guidelines on how to reference both in your assignment and in the bibliography. For more information refer to our Harvard Referencing guide.

Can I download music from the Internet at college?

This is dependent on the terms and condition of the website. Should a website require payment it is unwise to do this on public computers like the ones at college. Please remember that the computer network is provided for college work only.

Is it okay to edit a video for my coursework?

Generally you need permission to edit videos. The only time this would not be the case is where the copyright holder gives written permission on a film or as part of the terms of use of a website.

Can I copy pictures from a book?

This is general okay but the following images should not be reproduced:

  • Logos
  • Trademarks
  • Advertising

Is copying online different from copying from a book?

In some ways it is very similar as online material is also protected by copyright.  In the online environment you need to more careful about copying. Always refer to the terms and condition of use for online information. The FAQ How much can I copy from a website gives you more details.

How much can I copy from a website?

When the website or online material has terms of use or a license agreement you need to follow these. Should this not be the case it is only appropriate to copy extracts for your own research. You will also need to record where the information comes from.

Can I copy a video from the Internet and use it in my assignment?

It will depend on the terms of use or license on that website. Be careful where you get material from as some websites will have videos without permission. You could be told you have infringed copyright law if your download these. It is always better to use good sites to get your information from.

What rules are there about performing someone’s play?

The law focuses around whether the performance is for education or for public entertainment. This means that you will need permission or a license to perform a play in front of friends and parents or other members of the public.

Is using music okay for an end of year performance?

Currently you can only play recorded music to staff and students as part of a course. When parents or other members attend an additional license would be required.

How do I reference my assignments?

Please refer to the LRC’s referencing guide for more information or ask a member of LRC staff for help.

What is plagiarism?

It is the attempt to passing off someone else’s work as your own. For example copying a paragraph from a web page and putting it in an assignment as your work.

What is a citation?

This is when you use a quotation of someone else’s work in your assignment. Another way of looking at it is you referring to the views expressed in someone else’s work. Part of this is recording the other author in your work.

I am not sure what a bibliography is can you help?

It is a list of all the books, websites and other information you have used when preparing an assignment. This includes all the information you use whether you have quoted from them in your assignment or not. The bibliography is located at the end of an assignment generally on a different page from your coursework.

Who will lose out if I copy stuff?

  • The author or artist
  • The publisher or record company

This could have a serious impact on their income if everyone does it. Do not forget this could be you in the future.

What will happen if I copy too much of someone’s work?

Not only is this a civil offence, it can be a criminal offence.  One penalty for this is a fine of up to £5000.  When studying you could be found guilty of plagiarism.  On a Higher Education course this can mean failing a module or possibly being withdrawn from your course.

Where can I find out more?