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:
As there is no copyright on a web address (http://...) it is permissible to give web links to references under the following conditions:
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:
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
If you are the author of an unpublished work, including lecture notes, you may make it available to the public by posting it on the web if you wish.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.
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.