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Guide to Copyright: Copyright & VLEs

VLEs

Copyright applies to all categories of works, irrespective of format.  This includes newer formats such as computer programmes, databases and websites.  It should not be assumed that because material is freely available on the web, copyright laws do not apply.  Putting others' images or articles that are still in copyright into a VLE or intranet without their explicit permission is copyright infringement because you are indirectly providing multiple copies.  However there are some options available to you.

Consideration must always be given to whether the commercial or moral rights of the author will be affected by making copies of an item.  If in doubt, the simplest option may be to request written permission from the copyright holder.

You may make material available in a VLE under the following conditions:

  • It is for the purposes of an examination or assessed work which contributes to the student's final mark, however the material should be removed from the VLE after the exam.
  • It is a transcribed extract from, or reference to, a source and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.
  • You own the copyright or the material is out of copyright.
  • You may provide links to freely available websites.
  • You may provide links to electronic resources to which the institution subscribes, if the licence agreement allows it.
  • It is covered by the ICLA Digital Scanning and Intranet Extension for Certain Works Published in Ireland.
  • As multiple copying in print is permitted by the ICLA educational licence, you may provide a print course pack to accompany your VLE.
  • You request written permission from the copyright holder to include it in the VLE.

Linking

As there is no copyright on a web address (http://...) it is permissible to give web links to references under the following conditions:

  • You should link to the home page as this may carry important information which should not be bypassed, e.g. copyright notices, advertisements.  If you wish to deep-link directly to a page beyond the homepage, you should obtain written permission from the rights holder(s).
  • Link to text rather than logos/graphics unless you have first obtained written permission to use these as links.
  • Do not use frames or other display mechanisms which may give the impression that someone else's web page(s) is your own work.
  • Ensure that what you are linking to is not in itself an infringement of copyright.

Scanning print material

Scanning material for private study or research would be covered by fair dealing, under the same conditions and limitations as for print copying (see Reprographic copying: making a single copy for yourself).  The scanned copy must not be made available to others, either in print or posted on the web. 

You may scan material and make it available on the web under the following conditions:

  • You own the copyright of the material or the material is out of copyight.
  • You request written permission from the copyright holder to both convert the material to a digital format and to include it in the resource.
  • It is for the purposes of an examination or assessed work which contributes to the student's final mark, however the material should be removed from the VLE or website after the exam.
  • The material is covered by the ICLA Digital Scanning and Intranet Extension for Certain Works Published in Ireland.  This is an extension of the higher education copyright licence which UL pays for to make multiple print copies for groups of student.  The licence also grants permission to digitise and store extracts of printed books, journals and magazines using a digital photocopier (or any other electronic capture or electronic storage device) and make the material available on a closed access intranet or virtual learning environment.  However the licence covers Irish sourced publications only.  The same limits apply as for paper to paper copying.  The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA) operates this licensing scheme.  The licence, its coverage and what it excludes are available on the ICLA website at www.icla.ie.
  • If the material already exists in a digital format, provide a link to it rather than scanning it.

Database & ejournals

Generally, students and staff can download, copy, print or save material from the databases and e-journals to which the institution subscribes, for educational purposes, research or private study but not for commercial gain.  The majority of databases do not permit systematic or substantial downloading or copying and any copies or the resource itself may not be made available to unauthorised users.  Authorised users are usually, but not always, defined as all registered members of the institutions.

Providing links in a VLE to articles within a database to which the institution subscribes is generally permitted by the licence agreement between the database supplier and the institution, as long as the VLE is only accessible to authorised users.  If in doubt, check the licence agreement or the terms and conditions of the site, or contact the library

Putting your own material on the web or VLE

If you are the author of an unpublished work, including lecture notes, you may make it available to the public by posting it on the web if you wish.  If the material is very important or valuable, you may decide not to put it on the web at all.

For published material, make sure you are the copyright holder.  You may have assigned the rights in your published work to the publisher.  Depending on the particular agreement that is signed, the author retains more or less rights to use the article. Some agreements forbid the author from photocopying the article, using it in teaching, or putting it on the web. The majority of publishers are less restrictive and allow the author to retain rights to use the article as they wish.
The RoMEO website (www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php), run by SHERPA, lists publishers and their associated copyright agreements.  Search for a publisher, or a particular journal, to see which rights are assigned to publishers and which are retained by the author.

Copyright queries

This overview of copyright is for students and staff of the University of Limerick.  It is not a complete guide and should not be taken as legal advice.  Copyright queries may be directed to Cora Gleeson Librarian, Collection Services or Ciara McCaffrey, Deputy Librarian, Glucksman Library.