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When it comes to copyright there’s so often an element of uncertainty and pragmatic judgements to be made about risk. There are a number of resources available from the UCL library that help you observe copyright laws.

  • Course Readings Services:
    Navigates the copyright landscape; smooths the way to obtain texts you can legally pass to your students.
  • Readinglists@UCL:
    Organises course texts and presents them to students  (optionally in conjunction with the aforementioned Course Readings Services). 
  • Box of Broadcasts:
    Any UCL staff (or student) can now record TV and radio, and access a huge archive of recordings. Moodle editors can embed these within their course areas.
  • Copyright blog:
    UCL's Copyright Support Officer Chris Holland writes succinct, accessible updates on legal developments.
  • Copyright for E-Learning:
    This guide is designed to provide a brief introduction to the issues related to using material within online learning environments.

Tips for linking to and embedding content

  • Link to websites - if you link to a website you are not contravening any copyright laws.
  • Embed media hosted elsewhere - you're generally free to embed (though not download and host) any online content which explicitly invites you to share and/or embed. Examples: YouTube, SoundCloud, Prezi, &c. Otherwise, link to the resource where it is hosted.
  • Find copyright-cleared images - use search.creativecommons.org to find creative commons images - Pixabay is a great resource available through this search tool.

Openly-licensed materials

If students produce work which can help showcase their skills and be of interest to the public, you might like to encourage them to share it using YouTube, a portfolio or blog (like Wordpress.com). 

In order to protect their copyright they can use a simple open-source license, which informs others how they are able to use and reuse the work.

What is Creative Commons licensing?

This is a video produced by a UCL student while working on a project to help students share videos created for one of their modules publicly. You might like to embed this in your Moodle course.

When there are no openly-licensed materials

In some circumstances, using materials for which you haven’t been able to find openly-licensed alternatives is low risk as long as access is restricted to your students – i.e. you use a Moodle space and remind your students not to share or reproduce the materials.  

Images of artwork

The copyright status of the original artwork is more important than that of the image of the artwork – so if it’s an image of a work which is out of copyright (life plus 70 years) then the risk is even lower.

What if the artwork is still itself in copyright? Well if the image of that artwork exists within a Moodle space which is restricted to your students then it is probably covered by Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, relating to “work for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction”.

Linking to an image hosted elsewhere would reduce risk even further, as would reducing the resolution of the image (though the latter may not be appropriate to e.g. History of Art purposes).

UCL keeps snapshots of Moodle by year going back seven years and intended as a reference and archive - might this pose copyright problems? We are not aware of precedents where the owner of an original artwork has taken an educational institution to court.

Further information

Refer to the UCL Library's Copyright for E-Learning webpages for further information.

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