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​Students and ePortfolios, blogs and wikis

Students and ePortfolios, blogs and wikis

All the articles, reports, images, films, radio programmes etc. in our Online Library are property of their publishers unless otherwise stated in their copyright licensing Terms and Conditions.

There is an exception to copyright which allows the copying of these materials for private study. Students can share copied and cited materials with teachers without first getting copyright permission.

Before allowing anyone other than your lecturers and fellow students viewing permissions for the materials you've copied (for example in an ePortfolio) it is a serious matter to ensure that your use of content is copyright compliant.

Using and referencing copyright works

 Adapted from Emily Stannard's guidance written for the University of Reading



1. Do use material which explicitly says it is in the public domain.


‘Public domain’ means copyright in the work has expired. Creative Commons (CC) licences are similar to public domain works in that most CC licences allow you to copy/share without having to seek permission from the creator but CC licenced works stipulate terms of use, for example, a non-commercial use.


The type of copyright licence applied to the image will be listed along with the attribution.


Vermeer's Girl with Pearl Earning as a Public Domain photograph from wikimedia and marked as public domain
Click on the image and check the small print alongside the attribution for its copyright licence. Public domain must apply in the EU as works might be in the public domain in the US but not in Europe.

  • Europeana -- multimedia collections from libraries across Europe selected for their relevance to culture, memory and history.

Search your terms then use the filters in the results page to "with attribution" which will yield the public domain marked works. 

For more information see the library's the library's guide to images for repositories of public domain media.

2. Do quote something you find interesting

The fair dealing provision in the UK Copyright Act permits the use of short quotations of published works (as opposed to unpublished works like a private diary) for the purposes of criticism or review.

The quote should be kept as short as possible in relation to the work as a whole. Always reference material appropriately (i.e. credit the author and the source). Images can be used under criticism or review but exercise caution online especially if using someone else's photograph.

Using more content than is required or using it out of context, or using content to generate publicity, advertise or increase sales (such as an image on the front cover of a book or the Home page of a website) would require the copyright owners permission before use.

3. Do attribute/credit

You may have seen some newspapers or blog posts attribute images with ‘Copyright: Google Images’. This is incorrect, as is ‘Copyright: Twitter’ and so on. Whenever you attribute an image or other type of material, you must always reference the author/photographer’s name; if you don’t know it or are unsure whether you can use it, don’t. Always make sure you attribute a Creative Commons licensed image; there are some useful tools which can help you:


Xpert Attribution tool - pictures, sound and video found through the Xpert search engine will be accompanied by code to embed into a website / blog post / Powerpoint.

Generate code for your Flickr images, copy the link to the image you want to publish and paste URL into

4. Do use facts and ideas

Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, numbers, names, people / faces. In the case of photographs of people, the Data Protection Act may restrict what you can share.

5. Do use materials which are licensed for the type of use you want to make of them

Creative Commons (CC) licences allow re-use of material without the need to seek formal written permission each time. There is a lot of material on the Web that is licensed under CC – to find it, you can do an Advanced Search tab in Flickr, Yahoo! or Google and limit the results to licensed content:


screenshot of google's advanced search screen
Google's advanced search filters for usage rights will yield CC licenced materials.


The Creative Commons site also has its own search engine. The main licences are as follows:

  • Attribution (BY): Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor credit.
  • No Derivs (ND): Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work.
  • CC-0 licence places a work straight into the public domain (e.g. no copyright applies).
  • Crown Copyright: Material which is produced by officers or agents of the Crown in the UK is subject to Crown Copyright.
  • Open Government Licence for public sector information which allows any work marked with this licence to be used in any way as long as the source of the information is acknowledged.

6. Do use still images from TV programmes/films if you are reviewing them


Stills from films and TV programmes can be used online if you are reviewing those films / TV programmes without having to acknowledge where you got the images from. However, the copyright holder must still be acknowledged: in the case of a film, it should be the director (you can mention the director in the body of the review); in the case of TV, it may be the director as well as the broadcast network / channel it has been aired on.

BUFVC guidelines for citations of audiovisual materials can also be followed.


7. Do use descriptive Alt Tags to describe media

When publishing media online, use descriptive Alt Tags for each object. The Alt Tags insert the discussion into the image/video/sound. By doing this, you are further proving that the media is important for the purposes of the discussion. W3C guidance on Alt Tags



8. Don’t assume that if you just credit the author there is no copyright infringement


It’s not always enough to just credit the author; quite often you will need permission from the copyright holder to use their material (especially images) or they should be licensed for use. If you see the phrase ‘All Rights Reserved’ that means that the work is copyright and the only way you can use it is if you get permission from the creator or under a legal defence.

9. Don’t assume everything you find on the Internet is ‘public domain’

Copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author, so the chance of something being in copyright online is quite high. Authors/creators do not have to put a copyright notice on their work as copyright arises automatically, so even if a work does not have a copyright notice on it, assume that that work is copyright anyway.


10. Don’t assume that no response to your request for permission to use material means you can use it

Obtaining permission to use others’ copyright material can take time (although digital tends to be quicker as people can be reached via email or social media). If you do not receive a response to your request for permission, don’t just go ahead and use it – find something else. When you request permission to use other people’s copyright material, permission must always be given in writing (letter/email), and if you receive permission, always add a line saying “Reproduced with permission” or similar and credit the source/author. This may be along the lines of: © A. Smith, 2008.

Some publishers will specify how you should credit , e.g.:

© Timothy Dudley-Smith (b.1926) in Europe and Africa (Oxford University Press). Reproduced under CCLI Church Copyright Licence no. XXXXX. All rights reserved.

Individuals may authorise you to use their works but not specify a credit, in which case you could put something like this: © Erving Newton (Denmead Man). Used with permission. Photograph: All Saints Church, Denmead.


11. Don’t use maps outside of the terms of their licence

Digital or online maps are all subject to licence agreements and independent terms and conditions. The University subscribes to DigiMap (Ordnance Survey) where the licence allows you to publish maps on the University website as part of your course and use the maps/data in dissertations & sponsored research.

You may not:

  • Use the maps/data in any work of a commercial nature
  • Use the maps/data in commissioned research undertaken for the sole and exclusive benefit of the research sponsor
  • Use the maps/data in work undertaken on placements which is part of your employer’s work

Google Maps

You may embed Google maps on freely available public facing websites (e.g. the University website) without written permission as long as Google is attributed (e.g. © 2011 Google) and also any third-party suppliers (e.g. © 2011 Tele Atlas). This attribution is automatically added within the API when embedded into websites/blog posts.


Useful Further Information

There is no right or wrong way to attribute as long as you have included the author/creator’s name and a reference to the source.

You should always reference the author and try to mention the source wherever possible.


For Creative Commons licensed content cite:


(i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym) if supplied 

(ii) the title of the Work if supplied

(iii) to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI (URL) that is associated with the Work

  • Other creators who regularly use copyrighted works in their content share their tips on the  CopyrightUser website. 
 Screenshot of copyright user website for performers, filmmakers, writers, musicians, artists

Disclaimer: the information contained within these pages is intended as a general guideline and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Page owner: Lisa Redlinski