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Explaining aspects of copyright to be aware of when studying, lecturing or undertaking research. Please note that information on these pages is for guidance only: it does not constitute formal legal advice.

Purpose and availability of the podcast

This will affect your judgement of what copyrighted material you will use. The level of risk (whether it is high or low) may inform what you do with copyrighted material, i.e. what and how much of it you use; but you should always consider whether your usage is fair to the copyright owner (see the Fair Dealing part of this guide).

  1. An academic assignment for assessment: if this is not to be widely shared, then this is probably low risk, especially given that it is being used in an educational context and non-commercially. Copyrighted material should be acknowledged, perhaps at the end.
  2. A teaching resource that is to be shared with students on Moodle: risk is also fairly low, but it would still be wise to consider how copyrighted material is used, if a fairly substantial number of students may access it.
  3. If publicly hosted on an online platform, it is important that usage of copyrighted material is considered carefully and is fair (see the Fair Dealing part of the copyright guide, particularly how to judge how much of a work to use). Requesting permission from the rightsholder is a possibility but receiving a reply may take a long time, if it happens at all. If possible, using material available with an open licence (such as Creative Commons) will be a better option, as permission won't be necessary.
  4. Use beyond university work at the time or in the future: If the usage is not educational and/or becomes commercial (i.e. the creator of the podcast hopes to make money out of it), then permission, a licence, and payment of a fee may will be necessary for using copyrighted material. If possible, using material available with an open licence (such as Creative Commons) will be a better option, as permission won't be necessary.


  • Use copyright free sources, which are available in different styles; sources include:

  • With resources like these:

    • If using as background music, don't choose music with a no-derivatives licence (ND), which doesn't allow changes; using music as an accompaniment to video material is considered to be a change to the music.

    • Acknowledge the recording as instructed on the source website.

  • Copyrighted music/recordings:

    • Use as little as possible, and no more than necessary. Make sure that you haven't affected the market for the original. This means that you've effectively made it unnecessary for anyone to purchase the music by reproducing part of it; this could for example be because the extract is quite long.

    • Ensure that the purpose of reproducing it is absolutely clear, and it is relevant to the topic

    • Don't use as background music

    • Cite the piece of music and the recording (see Cite them right below).

  • Parody/caricature/pastiche: using and transforming part of a work for humorous purposes is allowable, but make sure that the purpose is justified (i.e. directly relevant to your work). For an academic assignment it is likely to be, as you will be guided by the requirements of the assignment. For podcasts to be made openly available, you will have to consider this more carefully. More information on Parody and Pastiche is found on the website.

Textual material

  • If you're reading out copyrighted textual material, don't read more than would be fair to the copyright holder, and make sure it's for a specific permitted purpose, such as a review or commentary.
  • With poems, note that this may not be very much at all, but you may be able to find and refer to an authorised recitation on YouTube or elsewhere on the web (although try to ensure that it is legitimate by looking at the details given by the person or organisation who posted it).

Visual material

Although podcasts are most commonly perceived to be audio, video podcasts are becoming commoner.

  • Images: use openly licensed images, such as ones licensed with Creative Commons licences.
    • You can find these on Flickr and Google Image search, as well as other Sources of Free Images.
    • You should check the terms and conditions carefully to ensure your usage is permitted - sometimes images in a particular site have differing conditions.
  • Video: use only short extracts of copyrighted material, and make sure it is directly relevant to your topic.
    • Don't circumvent any digital rights management measures - this means that you won't be able to copy extracts from commercial DVDs.
    • Material in YouTube videos may not present legally (the person who posted the video may not have obtained permission).
    • Creators of YouTube videos own the copyright in their videos (apart from material they've copied from elsewhere) - therefore you must ask permission to show substantial amounts or all of their videos in your work.
    • Creative Commons videos are available to be freely used without permission, and can be searched for using search engines. For Google, click 'Filters' and then 'Creative Commons' having done a search. Don't forget to acknowledge Creative Commons licenced videos properly (see Referencing CC licenced material in this guide).

A screenshot of the search filters in the Google search engine highlighting the Creative Commons filter under the Features section.