SOAS University of London

Copyright exceptions for education and teaching

SOAS has a CLA Higher Education Licence which enables staff to photocopy or scan limited extracts from published works for the purposes of teaching, without infringing copyright. However, not all published works from all countries are covered by the Licence, with many Asian and African countries excluded. In these circumstances, there are some exceptions to copyright specifically for educational establishments such as SOAS which may still allow you to copy material legally.

This guide is for staff members who want to photocopy or scan material not covered by the CLA Licence for course packs or hand outs. It is also relevant for lecturers who want to use copyright material in the classroom for illustration purposes (eg via Powerpoint or interactive whiteboard).

Copying for instruction 

The copying of works in any medium (including films, sound recordings and broadcasts) is permitted as long as:

  • the work is used solely to illustrate a point (this can be via an interactive whiteboard or on the BLE for example);
  • the use of the work is not for commercial purposes;
  • the use is ‘fair dealing’ (see explanation below); and
  • it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgment.  

Copying material for use in examinations can also rely on this exception so long as it falls within these criteria.

  • A lecturer can take a small number of clips from a DVD or website and put them on the BLE, accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, for students on a particular course to access and use as part of their learning. 
  • Images, such as photographs of works of art, can be included in a Powerpoint presentation and put on the BLE as long as their purpose is for illustration for instruction and low resolution versions of the images are used. Access should be limited to students on a particular course and for the duration of the course.
  • Lecture capture technology can be used to record a lecture which includes third party copyright material used to illustrate a teaching point. Only so much of the copyright work can be used as is necessary for illustration for instruction and access to the recorded lecture should be password protected via the BLE or another secure platform, rather than being available openly online. 
  • A postgraduate student should consider whether an image, map etc complies with fair dealing before incorporating it into their thesis. The student will need to ensure that copying is limited to what is necessary for the purpose of the examination and that the copying does not negatively impact on the market for the original work. This may mean limiting copying to shorter extracts of a work. 

Fair dealing

‘Fair’ is not defined, but the principle is not to unfairly deprive rights holders of a financial return, by copying only a fair amount. For practical purposes, a reasonable proportion is: a single copy of no more than one chapter or article or up to 5% of a published work.

Fair dealing in this context would mean using only a small proportion of a work that is illustrative of the subject you are teaching. It might also mean, for example, displaying images in low, rather than high, resolution or restricting access to students who are enrolled on a particular course.

Multiple copying for educational use 

Scanning extracts for use in BLE modules or photocopying for paper course packs and other hand outs must be done in compliance with the CLA Licence and the School’s scanning and photocopying procedures (see guidance on the main copyright page). However, where a work is not covered by the CLA Licence, the copyright exception for education can be used to copy up to 5% of a work in any 12 month period across SOAS. This exception only applies where copies are made for teaching for a non-commercial purpose. Where applicable, the CLA Licence must take precedent over the exception, so any photocopying or scanning of published material that can be undertaken under the Licence must do so.

This exception excludes the copying of artistic works (eg photos, paintings, maps) and broadcasts.   

  • A non-UK publication is excluded under the CLA Licence and there are no other licences that apply. Under this exception, a course convenor could still add a chapter to the BLE provided it does not exceed the extent limits of 5% of a work in any 12 month period, and the purpose of copying and making the chapter available is limited to teaching for a non-commercial purpose.

Copying for criticism and review

A copy of a work can be made under this exception for the purposes of criticising or reviewing a work. This is subject to fair dealing and the work must be sufficiently acknowledged as well as having lawfully been made available to the public.   

  • A lecturer can make short extracts of a film that is being critiqued available through the BLE to support the review's description of its unusual cinematography. 

Performing a literary, dramatic or musical work

Literary, dramatic or musical works can be performed for non-public purposes, such as examinations, during the course of instruction and similar purposes as long as the audience comprises students and teachers. Any other audience will need an appropriate licence such as those offered by PRS and PPL for the public performance of music. 

Recorded broadcasts

SOAS has an Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence for the use of BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 broadcasts. This licence is managed by the IT and Media Services team. Broadcasts from these channels can be used in classrooms for instruction only. 

Satellite and cable only broadcasts, which aren't covered by any licensing scheme, can be recorded for non-commercial purposes and should be accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement. 

Extracts from any broadcast can generally be copied and used for the purposes of criticism and review, but they should be used sparingly and actively support the arguments being made. 


 For further advice contact the Information Compliance Manager at