Skip to Main Content

West Suffolk College Library

Guide to Copyright : Copyright for students


Copyright for students

During your course at University Studies at West Suffolk College, you will be accessing, downloading, using and creating works protected by copyright. The information below gives you a general overview about copyright that you will need to help you in your studies and future career. If you are studying music, law or an art based subject, you may cover copyright in more depth as part of your course.

Licensed resources

Copyright law recognises that you will need to access and download various resources for your assignments. The majority of books, journals, databases and software you use are protected by copyright. Your tuition fees enable us to pay licence fees so that we can provide you with the appropriate resources.  The law makes provision under 'fair dealing' for non-commercial research and private study. This relates to exceptions that can be made when wishing to use copyrighted information. It does however require that you only copy ‘as much of a work as is necessary for the purpose’ and that copying ‘must not impact on rights holders legitimate exploitation of their work’. There is more information about this on the government website page The 'fair dealing' section of UK copyright law, this law permits you to copy extracts from sound recordings, films and broadcasts as well as literary, dramatic and musical works for private study or non-commercial research purposes.  All types of copyright are covered and acknowledgement (using the appropriate referencing system) of the source must be provided.   

Using other people’s copyright works and copyright infringement

Using other people’s copyright works and copyright infringement

Resources such as books, photographs, music and film are all protected by copyright automatically when written down, recorded or saved.

This gives the owner (author, composer, producer etc…) of the copyright the right to decide what you're allowed to do with that work. You should make sure your use of copyright works is legal.

If you use someone else’s work unfairly and without permission this is infringement of copyright and you may be liable for legal action.

Creative Commons Licences

Creative Commons Licences

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that assists authors and creators who want to share their work, by providing free copyright licences and tools.

Creative Commons licences are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

There are several different Creative Commons licenses with different permissions attached. For example, a CC BY license is very open and only requires that you credit the original creator, whereas a CC BY-NC license does not allow commercial use.

To better understand what each license allows you to do, take a look at this infographic.



Social media

Social media

When posting on social media you're sharing other people’s work on social media, make sure you either have permission or that your use is covered by a copyright exception.

Copyright in your work

Copyright in your work

You own the copyright in any of the work you create at University Studies. This includes personal lecture notes, essays and examination responses in any form.

Work you submit for assessment must be your own original work

If you create copyright material in collaboration with others, you'll share the copyright ownership. If you create work with significant input from University Studies Staff, University Studies may own the copyright in it, which will affect what you are able to do with it.

Accessible copies

Accessible copies

All disabled people are now covered by the legislation where their impairment affects their ability to study or work on an equal basis as someone without impairment. This means that all materials can now be altered to an alternate appropriate format as long as an appropriate format copy is not already commercially available to the student.

These alternative formats can be made by the student or a recognised student helper. These may also be requested as part of the reasonable adjustment processes worked through with our SEN advisor.

Exams and coursework 

The law allows you to make copies of work to include in your assessments and exams. You must always ensure that you include appropriate acknowledgement, which will also ensure you avoid any potential risk of plagiarism.

This exception, however, does not permit you to make your work available online or in print. To do this, you must seek permission from the rights holder to reproduce their work in your publication.