Frequently asked questions
My students can’t see a digitised item – who do I tell?
What is the best way to link students to online content?
As a general rule it is OK to link to online content from a reading list or VLE.
The only known exception is Harvard Business Review on EBSCO where linking students to specific journal articles is prohibited.
Each item you find when using Library Search has a permalink. To view it, select Actions and Permalink.
Copy the address (URL) displayed by your browser.
If you find you are having trouble linking your students to a library resource please ASK the Library
How can I quickly find an image to use in my slides?
Easy to reuse images
If you do a Google search you will retrieve a large number of images with a wide range of licences. At a glance, it will be hard to know which images are safe to reuse and which are not. Individually checking the reuse terms of each image can be time-consuming.
Often it is better to start your search within image collections that you know are licensed for easy reuse, for example, those that license images with Creative Commons Licences or permit educational reuse of their content. Below are some suggestions but it is a good idea to building up your own list of favourite image sites for use in lecturers and conference presentations.
Remember to acknowledge an image’s creator. See How do I acknowledge images?
Images of College life
Creative Commons Search - searches Google, Flickr and Pixabay for CC licensed images
Freeimages - search free images, avoid Getty istock
Flickr - search, then use advanced filters to see only Creative Commons images
MorgueFile - free photos, avoid stock images
Pexels - Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensed images
Unsplash – Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensed images
Subject specific image collections
HEAL Collection (Medical images) - Many Creative Commons licensed images but check individual image metadata)
What can I include in an exam paper?
Unfortunately the provisions for exams were reduced when UK copyright Law was updated in 2014. You may now only include an extract from a book, journal or website and not the whole work.
If you want to reproduce a whole journal article for an exam, pick a journal stocked by the Library and ASK the Library if there is permission within the College’s Copyright Licensing Agency Higher Education Licence to make multiple print copies available to students.
What can I include in my lecture recording (Panopto)?
Assuming your lecture is only for use by imperial students, you may include:
- unpublished text and images created by you to teach your students
- materials published under a suitable Creative Commons licence
- short quotes from books, journal articles and conference proceedings
- equations and other facts that are ‘common knowledge’
- a small number of images from a book, journal article or conference proceedings
- materials for which you have the written permission of the copyright holder
Unless you are only showing a short clip to illustrate a specific teaching point, you should edit out:
- music tracks
- TV and radio
For more detailed information about lecture recording see Recording lectures: legal considerations
How can I show a film to my students during the pandemic?
During the pandemic you may wish your student to watch a feature film relevant to their studies. During the pandemic travel to campus is discouraged and the option to arrange a classroom screening, even a socially distanced one, is removed. Below are some other options.
- If the film has been broadcast on UK Television then it should be available on Box of Broadcasts. All broadcasts have a URL link that you can share with students. If you cannot see your film, library services can contact BUFVC to check if it can be added.
2. Contact the film’s copyright owner, normally the UK distributor, of the film for written permission to make a copy of the film available to students on your course. Commitments that will give the distributor confidence to say yes are:
- Highlighting that the film is being show for educational purposes, that no fee will be charged to watch the film and that you own a legally purchased copy of the film on DVD.
- Telling them that you will host the film on a secure, password protected university platform with any download options switched off. Access will be limited to only students on the course.
- Suggesting a short screening time that mimicking a classroom screening. For example, by making the film available for 24-72 hours, instead of hosting it for a whole term and agreeing to delete copies of the film once they are no longer required.
- Saying that you will display a notice or click-through licence for students that makes it clear that the film should not be copied and /or be redistributed, especially on the internet.
3. Purchase a screening licence from BFI, Filmbankmedia or MPLC. The Independent Cinema Office’s What licences do I need? and Film copyright licensing pages explain how to do this. Their FAQ How do I find out the distributor for a particular film? Will help you pinpoint the distributor of your film and their contacts details.
How can I stop students posting my lecture on YouTube
While you can’t technically stop students uploading your lecture to YouTube, you can add a statement to all your teaching materials that makes it clear to students what they can and can’t do with them.
© [year] Imperial College London. All rights reserved.
This presentation has been added to Blackboard to support your studies.
You may print and/or download a single copy for your personal, educational use.
Further redistribution of teaching materials, including making copies available on the internet, is not permitted.
How do I ask a copyright holder for permission?
You should request permission from a copyright holder when neither law nor licence permit you to use a copyrighted work in the way you’d like to.
For books and journal articles the copyright holder is normally the publisher but check the copyrighted statement. For material on websites, the copyright holder may be the individual creator or owner of the website.
Once you have identified the copyright holder write to them providing the following details:
- the work you want to copy
- a link to the work (if on the web)
- your intended use (purpose, format and location)
- the amount / pages you want to copy
- number of students on the course (if applicable)
Only use the copyrighted materials if you receive a positive reply and always keep on file any correspondence as proof of permission.
What should I do if I receive an infringement notice?
If you receive an infringement notice, take it seriously and don’t ignore it.
- Acknowledge receipt of their letter, or email, and confirm that you will look into the matter.
- Make no comment on whether you believe your use of their work is legitimate or not.
- Ask the complainant for more information if this would help.
- Take any action that will placate the complainant and stop the situation getting worse. For example, if the complaint is about making content available online, temporarily remove it.
Once you have all the relevant information decide if you think you have infringed the complainant’s rights and reply to them. If you aren’t sure ASK the Library or the Legal Services Office. Follow any advice you receive.
How much of printed Imperial thesis may I copy?
Please refer to the guidance in the front of the thesis as permission to copy varies by year and some theses may not be copied without the express permission of the author.
Where a thesis has no copyright notice, you should treat it in the same way as other library materials and copy only an amount that the author would think fair. As working guidance, we suggest you limit your copying to a single copy of one chapter or multiple extracts that add up to a similar amount. The purpose of your copying must always be non-commercial research or private study, and the copy should be kept personal, so not shared with others or placed on the internet.
How do I acknowledge images?
In formal situations, you should cite images as outlined in your journal’s style guide or chosen reference style (see Reference management).
In less formal situations you must still acknowledge the image’s creator, but you can be more flexible about how you do this. For guidance, Creative Commons request that you acknowledge the following attributes of an image
- Source (URL of the original image online *)
*If you aren’t sure if you are copying the original image, use TinEye or Google’s reverse image to find other copies of the web. Some critical analysis might help you work out who created it and who has copied it.
Attribution can be simplified by using websites with a citation feature. CC search provides a citation alongside the image for you to copy and paste. Wikimedia Deutschland has created an Attribution Generator for Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons images. Xpert both searches and then captions Flickr images and allows you to caption Creative Commons licensed images from other websites. The caption is embedded in the image making it great for social media posts.
In a slide presentation, it can be quicker to add a reference slide as your last slide than caption each image individually.
How do I notify students that my teaching materials are provided under College’s CLA Licence?
When you use Imperial’s CLA Licence to facilitate copying extracts from books and journals for students you should always reference the source and add the words below to your slides and handouts
Copied under CLA Licence – please refer to the full Copyright Notice (pdf)
What is a Creative Commons licence?
Creative Commons licences are a series of licences written in everyday language that allow content creators, such as photographers and writers, to clearly tell others what they can and can’t do with it.
Creative Commons came up with the idea of creating 6 licences that all allowed a work to be copied and shared but varied when it came to the things that people cared about most: commercial use, making derivatives and keeping works open.
Creative Commons licences are useful to lecturers because they provide permission to re-use whole works, especially images, something it is not possible to do under UK Copyright Law. When citing an image or other work licensed with a Creative Commons licence, always add a link to the licence and the original work, see Best practices for attribution.
Use in university teaching materials is normally viewed as non-commercial use as your primary purpose is to educate students, not to make money. CC Search helps you locate images, music and videos licensed with a Creative Commons licence.
Is commercial copying allowed?
What advice do you offer library visitors about copyright?
Visitors to the Library can use our collection for private study or non-commercial research. Please ensure your copying remains fair to the copyright holder and read the advice we give students on copying library materials.
Should I upload my papers / thesis to ResearchGate?
Research Gate and Academia.edu are not repositories but social networking sites aimed at researchers. They regularly encourage researchers to upload and share their latest research papers but just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. What you can do with a paper after it has been accepted for publication depends upon your publishing agreement.
If you published your paper as open access and with a Creative Commons Licence then the answer is likely to be yes, but if you didn’t then your paper will behind the publisher’s paywall. To make a copy of the published version openly available on the web would be a breach of the publishing agreement you signed.
Imperial recommends that you upload your paper to Spiral, the College's research repository. It will be safe and provide you with a link you can paste anywhere, including ResearchGate. Many members of College are uploading their accepted manuscripts to Spiral in preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), see guide to depositing an accepted paper in Spiral.
If you still wish to deposit in ResearchGate, please read the terms and conditions in the footer of the website. ResearchGate is a commercially run networking site, similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, and it is important to be aware of how they might use the content you upload.
When using ResearchGate, remember not all papers have been uploaded with the permission of the rights holder. As responsible researcher you should always obtain papers from a legal source such as the Library or a research repository. If the article your want is not available via Library Search, use the Open Access Button or Unpaywall to quickly find out if a repository copy exists.
Is it safe to use YouTube clips in teaching?
Yes and no. It is generally safe to link or embed YouTube videos in teaching materials so long as you:
- Use the functionality provided by the service
- Believe that video was uploaded with the consent of all the copyright holders
- Or where unsure, judge the risk of the copyright holder challenging you or the College about your use to be low
Should you accidently direct students to infringing content you may find it missing when you come to teach your class. YouTube has a system whereby copyright holders can ask for videos to be taken down and the accounts of repeat offenders frozen.
Film, music and TV all have a high commercial value, therefore you are advised to only use clips uploaded by the rights holder, normally the production company (e.g. BBC or Film 4). Home recordings of TV programmes, music tracks and films should be avoided. Use Box of Broadcasts to show recent TV programmes and recordings back to the 1990s or ASK the Library to buy a DVD of a film for students to borrow.
Can I upload full-text journal articles to Refworks, Endnote and Mendeley?
You may attach full-text copies of journal articles to references stored within reference management software. When selecting a sharing option for your account either choose to keep full-text articles private or share them only with members of your project group at Imperial.
Reference management software should be used to store individual articles relevant to your research project. It should not be used to systematically reference and store all the content of a journal.
What should I know before creating a video assignment?
Videos are complex because they can contain many different types of copyrighted works, people and may be shot on location.
If your video includes copyrighted works, such as artworks or clips from TV, film or videos, then you have made a copy and copyright law applies. This might be a good thing because copyright law allows you to deal fairly in the work as part of receiving instruction, as criticism, review, quotation or news reporting or as caricature, parody or pastiche. However, on the flip side it may also mean you have to request permission from the copyright holder to use their work as realistically you can’t use a small part of an artwork in any meaningful way. You must always reference other people’s work in the credits of your video and you should make a risk assessment on the likelihood of the copyright holder objecting to your use of their work, for copyright or reputational reasons.
People in your videos have rights. Anyone giving a live performance, for example an interview, lecture or concert, has performance rights in the video recording. You must therefore seek written consent from anyone performing in your video, to reuse anyone’s recorded performance and before redistributing their performance on the internet. The wording of the consent should be clear and specific, for example ‘I agree to my interview being included in [video name] and for it to be shared publicly on YouTube’. In a commercial setting you might ask the performer to licence or assign the rights in the performance to you. You should also gain the consent of anyone in the background of your shoot who is clearly identifiable and in a private space, for example a student who is captured working while a video is being shot in a laboratory. They may a have a reason, unknown to you, for not wanting to be photographed or for their image to be shared on the internet.
Your video maybe shot within a public space, for example a park or a high street, or a private space, such as your department or a museum. When filming in a private space always check the filming and photography policy of the location you plan to film in. The Library’s filming and photography policy can be found on the Library website as can those of the local museums.
When faced with a video assignment it can be tempting to think that the simplest option is to reuse clips already uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo but this approach has a number of issues. Was the video uploaded by the copyright holder and did the video creator clear permissions correctly and fully? Does YouTube permit you take clips from its website and what might happen when you reload clips back to the site? If you took clips from ten You Tube and Vimeo videos you must copyright clear each of the ten clips. You Tube and Vimeo encourage self-policing of copyright and not all users understand that just because you can copy something sometimes you shouldn’t. Be especially vigilant about illegally uploaded music, TV clips and film footage.