Copyright support in the Library

Created by Meredith Atwater for Image available under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike License at

Welcome to the new semester!

Whether you are a student starting a new module, a researcher working on a project or a lecturer preparing a lecture, you will come across many resources – articles, images, book chapters, diagrams, videos – created by others. In most cases, these are protected by copyrighted: someone else usually owns the rights to the work, and what you can or cannot do with this work (e.g. copy, share, adapt it) is determined by the copyright owner and by copyright law. By default, to use a copyrighted resource it is necessary to get permission from the owner.
Does this mean that for every article, book, image etc you need to contact the owner get permission? Fortunately in most cases you don’t have to do this: the Library already has licences allowing you to access and use a lot of resources – and if in doubt, we are here to support you.
Here are some things that can help you when using copyrighted materials in your studies, teaching, and research.

Reading lists

If you are a student, you can access course materials provided by your lecturer on your reading list. These are normally available to you because the Library has a licence allowing access to Surrey students registered on a particular course. You can access these resources for your own personal study but not share with others. See more information at My Surrey copyright page

Subscription resources provided by the Library

The Library provides access to print and electronic journal articles and books, newspaper articles, TV and radio broadcasts, music and other materials. As a Surrey authorised user, you can use these resources for your own research and private study.

Open Access resources

You canaccess any Open Access journal articles, book chapters, monographs and other resources, including those held in Surrey’s Open Research repository. If a resource, e.g. an image, is licensed under an open licence such a Creative Commons licence, you don’t have to worry about limits to how much you can copy.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Created by สุรชัย สายวงษิ์, available via Wikimedia Commons.

See our guidance on discovering and citing Open Access resources. 

Exceptions to copyright/fair dealing

Even if a resource is not openly licensed, you may consider relying on copyright exceptions. Under UK copyright law, you can use limited amounts of published materials for research and educational purposes. The amount you use should be reasonable and appropriate to your purpose; your use should not damage the commercial interests of the creators/rights owners; and you should always fully acknowledge the authors and the source.

Fair dealing is open to interpretation, so you may want to seek advice if unsure. We are here to help!

Further advice

The Open Research website offers copyright advice, including advice about rights to your own work. You can also contact the Open Research team for further information and advice or to arrange a training session. Finally, look out for our new copyright online module, available soon on SurreyLearn.