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Copyright Guidelines for Students

Copyright holders (such as writers, musicians, designers, artists, photographers and film makers) often dedicate their lives to creating works of art, education or entertainment that all of us benefit from and their rights should not be abused.

When using material belonging to others you should:

    i. always seek permission if it is practical to do so;
    ii. use only an insubstantial part* of a copyright work without permission;
    iii. restrict access to your use of the copyright material to your departmental colleagues (i.e. do not publish on the www - only make available on a restricted site);
    iv. never attempt to make commercial use of copyright material;
    v. always acknowledge fully and properly the source and copyright holder of the material.

    *Insubstantial part is a legal term, but unfortunately does not have a definition that translates easily into specific amounts of material. We suggest you use the following as guidelines:


    400 words of continuous prose

    800 words if the quote is not continuous

    Films / TV / Video

    No more than a few minutes (not more than 10% of the whole programme)


    Use of photographs without permission is restricted to the purposes of “criticism or review”, so if you use a photograph, it should be incorporated into a critical analysis.

    Poems & Songs

    Unfortunately it is not possible to define in law what constitutes an insubstantial part of a song or poem – the amount can vary from item to item. However, for poetry, the Society of Authors recommends up to 40 lines, providing this does not exceed a quarter of the poem.

    These guidelines are for use of copyright material within your courses at Warwick. Different rules apply to commercial use of copyright material outside educational institutions and different rules apply in different countries. You should refer to the law of the country you are operating in when using copyright materials in these circumstances.
    See also the detailed Guidelines from the British Academy and the Publishers' Association.