Copyright and Digital Media

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Copyright and Digital Media

In multimedia the Internet is a powerful tool for research but note:

  • Regulations regarding copyright and electronic resources are complex.

  • An image on the Internet does not mean it is free to use in any way you choose.

Copyright regulations are embodied within the ‘Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988’. There are several areas to consider;

  1. Fair Use:

These regulations include what is reasonable for private study and research. Making multiple copies for classroom use has been established as being outside these definitions.

Permissible uses with respect to ICT are:

  • web browsers making a temporary copy of a web page or relevant files, otherwise known as caching, as it is integral to accessing the Internet and using it efficiently

  • printing out of a single copy of a web page, although not the whole web site, for private study or research. For schools, the same rules apply as for photocopying, that no more than 1% of the web site may be reproduced

  • making a single copy of a web page, although not the whole web site, to a hard drive or floppy disk, as long as it is not for the purpose of producing multiple copies
  • quoting from a web page or text available on the Internet as long as the source is acknowledged and it is for the purpose of criticism or review

  • making a temporary copy of a file or web page for the purpose of electronic transmission such as email, to an individual for their private study or research. The copy should be deleted as soon as the transmission is complete.

Fair dealing ceases if:

  • a single hard copy or electronic copy is made with the intention of producing multiple copies or redistributing it either in paper form or electronically

  • a licence is available to permit copying, but has not been sought

  • the copies are used commercially, sold or hired, whether it was the original intention or not when the copying took place

  • the copy is made publicly available, such as on a web site, without the permission of the copyright holder.

Other Links to information on the issues surrounding the use of digital images and intellectual copyright

Guidelines for Fair Dealing in an Electronic Environment

Joint Information Systems Committee

Fair use guidelines for educational multimedia

The Copyright Website

Fair use Policy –Mark Hardens Archive

Online Copyright Activity

British Copyright Council

Online Resources for Educators about song creation and copyright

Copyrights and Copying Wrongs

2. Public Domain

You do not need a license to use public domain work. Public domain works are those not protected by copyright. They can be used by anyone as no one can claim the exclusive rights of copyright. Click on the links below for copyright free images.

Public Domain Images for Use in Multimedia Projects and Web Pages

A Community-Indexed Photo Archive

3. Royalty Free Images
Royalty-Free images can be used multiple times but need to be purchased first. Royalty-Free image pricing is based only on size (not usage) and there are never additional fees for using the image. These can often be purchased with other Royalty-Free images on discs for added value.
The Worlds Stock Photography
Royalty Free Images
Always check for copyright information before downloading any images from the web. Below are two examples of copyright notices:

National Gallery London

The contents of this site, including all images and text, are protected by copyright. All material is provided for browsing and viewing purposes only. No copies of the digital images or text may be made except for personal use. 'Personal use' means non-commercial, domestic use by an individual involving the making of only single copies of each digital image.

Digital Imaging Project – art historical images of sculpture and architecture from pre-historic to post modern

Copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

If you are in doubt about the copyright on any image don’t use it.

Alternatively contact the site and explain what you want and how you intend to use it.

4. Creative Commons
There are many people using the web nowadays who are happy to share their work and allow people to copy, re-use and even adapt original pieces of media. Creative Commons lets the creator of digital resources easily tell people how they would like their resources to be used and how you can legally use them. (

Attribution. Other people can copy, distribute, display, and perform this copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way that the original owner requests.

Noncommercial. Other people can copy, distribute, display, and perform this work — and derivative works based upon it — but only for non-commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works. Other people can copy, distribute, display, and perform this work exactly as it was produced by the original creator. They cannot make changes, remix or base other work on it.

Share Alike. Other people can distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that was used on the original work.
It is possible to search websites such as Flickr to find Creative Commons images that you can use in your school projects. You will still need to attribute the original source of these images if you do use them. Do this by including a link to the original image on Flickr.
Here are some examples:


Some creative commons music sites include:


CC Mixter


Some Education Authorities run galleries of multimedia materials that are free to use for Educational purposes such as E2BN ( )

Media Piracy

The Pirates Dilemma
This video takes an alternative view of media piracy and the way copyright laws are being used by large media organisations.
The Pirate’s Dilemma tells the story of how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works.

Media piracy in the news

Q&A – Music and Filesharing

Net firms in music pirates deal

‘Heroes’ Producer Recognizes Benefits of BitTorrent
Two out of five downloaders paid for Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album
Illegally downloaded games 'up 20% in five years'

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