Copyright and your site

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Your website, blog and social media posts should be treated as a publications, and you should apply the same rules for copyright as you do for ‘normal’ publishing. This post talks about whats covered by copyright and how to stay on the right side of the law.

Your website, blog and social media posts should be treated as a publications, and you should apply the same rules for copyright as you do for ‘normal’ publishing.

What’s covered

Creators automatically get copyright protection when they create:

  • original artistic, literary, musical and dramatic work.
  • photographic copyright is granted to the person who took the original image (if an image is manipulated or edited, copyright is attributed to the editor).
  • the layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works
  • original non-literary written work, eg software, instructions, web content and databases (this includes your blog).
  • music, sound, film and television recordings
  • broadcasts

What it prevents

Copyright prevents others from:

  • copying or distributing your work (either for free or for profit)
  • lending/renting copies of your work
  • performing, playing or showing your work public
  • making adaptations of your work
  • putting your work online

Avoiding copyright problems

Whilst copyright issues can be very complicated, there are a few easy to follow guidelines that should help you stay on the right side of the law:

Own what you post

The easiest way to avoid copyright issues is to create original content.

Assume everything else is copyright protected

Copyright is automatically given to the creator of an original work and prevents others from using it without permission.  This includes using it on the internet.

It is not true that works found online or lacking a copyright notice are in the public domain and therefore free to use.

Assume that everything is copyright protected and you will not break the law.

Cite your references!

If you’ve used someone’s work – make sure you reference them (and where you got it from).

Get permission

If you’d like to use a section or quote from another author and you should contact them directly to seek permission.

Use a license

Not all licenses have a cost attached to them.

Use the law

Under UK Law, you are in some circumstances able to use portions of copyrighted material without first obtaining a license.

Fair dealing (not Fair Use) is the main route for using third party material if you have not been able to obtain permission and may apply to your blog in two forms:

  • Criticism and Review
  • Quotation

Blogs at the University of Birmingham are not considered non-commercial or private study. 

If you’re asked to remove copyrighted work

Even if you think you had permission or a licence to use copyrighted work, it is still best to remove anything that you’re asked to, as quickly as you possibly can.

The copyright claim can then be investigated and an appropriate license obtained.

Getting help

If you’re struggling with copyright issues, please get in touch with the University’s Copyright Team


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