Copyright applies not only to textual material, but also resides in a wide range of artistic output including images, both still and moving, performances, drama, dance, and music.


The term “images” covers a wide range of non-textual materials which, for the purposes of copyright, are considered artistic works. “Images” can be: architectural plans or drawings, blueprints, cartoons, charts, decorative images, graphs, diagrams, drawings, engravings , illustrations, logos, maps, paintings, photographs, sculptures, sketches.

Copyright in images lasts for seventy years from the death of the creator, however some images may also enjoy additional protection, for examples brand logos and cartoon characters may be registered trade marks.

Go to our Copyright Exceptions web pages for detailed information on exceptions to this rule.

The UK's Intellectual Property Office has published a useful guide to Digital Images, Photographs and the Internet.

Many images can be obtained which can be re-used without the need to obtain permission. Some of these sources are outlined below.


The EUscreen portal offers free online access to thousands of items of audiovisual heritage. It brings together clips that provide an insight into the social, cultural, political and economic events that have shaped the 20th and 21st centuries. EUscreen is intended to be a resource for educators, researchers and media professionals searching for new audiovisual content from across Europe.


Flickr is a photo sharing website. Within its advanced search facility, it allows you to restrict your search to creative commons content only.


MediaPlus (formerly JiscMediaHub) is an extensive resource offering access to a wide range of audio, video and digital image collections.


Scran is a charitable online learning service with over 390,000 images and media from museums, galleries, and archives. Its charitable purpose is "the advancement of education by enabling public access to Scottish cultural resources and related material

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a database of images, sounds and videos. Most content can be freely reused, but you will need to check content for individual restrictions.

Moving Images

Moving images are defined as films, broadcasts or cable programmes.

  • The duration of copyright on films is 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last principal director, author or composer dies.
  • If the work is of unknown authorship: 70 years from end of the calendar year of creation, or if made available to the public in that time, 70 years from the end of the year the film was first made available.
  • For broadcasts and cable programmes, the period of copyright protection is 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast was first made.

The University holds the ERA licence for recording TV and radio programmes ('broadcasts') for non-commercial educational purposes. It is a blanket licence allowing reasonably free use of TV material for teaching, based on the number of FTE students at the institution.

You can record feature films, advertisements, documentaries, dramas, etc. The purpose must be for educational, not promotional or recreational use, and the (non paying) audience must be registered students, and staff involved with the teaching.

ERA requires all recordings and copies to be accompanied by details (a label for example) of date, name of broadcaster, time and title of the recording and the statement "This Recording is to be used only under the terms of the ERA Licence".

For further information, contact Media Services, email

Box of Broadcasts

The University of Aberdeen subscribes to Box of Broadcasts (BoB) National. This resource allows University of Aberdeen staff and students to record and catch up on any broadcast program from over 60 TV and radio channels, on and off campus (UK mainland).

You can access a wide range of content and create playlists and copyright cleared clips. You can search BoB’s media archive including all BBC TV and radio content dating from 2007 (currently over 1 million programs).

Members of the University can use the BoB online pre-booking feature to record programmes due to be broadcast on UK terrestrial and Freeview channels. Programmes broadcast up to seven days previously can also be viewed.

Other features include:

  • available on desktop and handheld devices, including Apple and Android devices
  • searchable rolling transcripts and viewable thumbnails
  • one-click citation reference tool
  • extended 30 day recording buffer – providing more time to record missed programmes
  • access to over 10 foreign language channels, including French, German and Italian

For further information on Box of Broadcasts including video tutorials and FAQ, go to the BoB National website.

When you’re ready to get started:

  • click Log in
  • select University of Aberdeen from the list of organisations
  • login using your normal University username and password

If you experience any difficulties in using this service please call Media Services, email, tel 01224 273000
log into the MyIT Portal and
choose BoB option to report a BoB fault or request further guidance.

Open University Licence Scheme

The University also holds a licence permitting staff to record Open University programmes for use in teaching. You have to declare programmes individually and pay an annual fee for their retention. The records are held and administered by Media Services.


Printed music is covered by copyright. In the UK, copyright in a musical work lasts for seventy years from the end of the calendar year in which the composer or author dies. A sound recording also enjoys copyright protection for 70 years from the end of the year in which the recording is made and a typographical edition is generally protected for 25 years from the end of the year of publication. Individual songs comprise two forms of copyright: The music itself, and the lyrics/words - treated as a literary work.

Permissible copying - recordings

It is permissible to copy extracts of a work for the purposes of criticism or review providing that the amount copied falls within the provisions of fair dealing and that due acknowledgement is given: Section 30(1). It is now permissible to change the format of a recording, e.g. from vinyl record to CD.

The producer of a recording normally owns the copyright in the recording, however the actual material recorded for example the music performed, words spoken or sung also enjoy their own copyright.

It is permissible to use copies made from recordings as part of an examination or as part of other work submitted for the purpose of examination. Such copies should be destroyed once the examination has taken place. This allowance does not extend to providing students with copies of musical works for use in an examination. Section 32(3).

Permissible copying – sheet music

If a musical work is in copyright (which it will be if any of the composers, editors or authors have not been dead for more than 70 years, or the work published in the last 25 years, whichever is the longer) then copying the work and/or arranging it are infringements of the copyright unless the person doing so enjoys a specific exception under the Act, or has the specific licence of the copyright owner to do so.

Copying of sheet music is permitted under the following exceptions:

  • Research and private study. A reasonable proportion of a piece of music may be copied provided the amount can be considered fair dealing.
  • Copying for instruction. Copying small portions of music for the purpose of instruction is permitted. Material can be copied by any reproductive means, but the amount copied must comply with the “fair dealing” and full acknowledgement must be given.
  • Copying for examinations. Sheet music may be made for the purpose of written examination, but the amount used should comply with fair dealing. Where candidates are required to perform a musical work in an examination, the use of reprographic copies is not permitted in this context.

Licencing schemes

In addition to the above statutory exceptions, permission to copy may be obtained through a licensing scheme if and where one exists. Some organisations that give information on their websites are::


As with any other type of materials, images and textual material found on the internet are likely to be protected by copyright. Unless the website clearly stipulates that the material may be freely reproduced (assuming the website owner is also the copyright owner, or they have the copyright owner’s permission to use the material) or it has been created under an appropriate, i.e. creative commons licence, then specific permission of the copyright holder must be sought.