Blackboard Learn

There are many copyright issues involved when material is used in Blackboard Learn, as under UK copyright law, all materials placed in a shared electronic environment or which will be copied or downloaded by multiple users at the same time, requires explicit permission from the copyright owner or must be covered by a licence. This applies to all copyright material, even to 'free to view' content on the internet.

The University is subject to Compliance Audits of the e-learning environment carried out by the Copyright Licensing Agency. It is important to ensure all content is made available in keeping with copyright law and licensing to avoid personal and institutional liability for copyright infringement or breach of contract.

If you are an academic who wishes to make extracts from books or journals available in Blackboard Learn for teaching, it can be very complex depending on the content you wish to use. For example:

You can also find answers to some common questions about using content in Blackboard Learn in our Library FAQs or ask your own. 

Printed books and journals

Extracts from books and journals may not be made available in Blackboard Learn directly, but must be requested through the Library's Digital Readings Service (DRS), to enable the University to comply with the terms of the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Copyright Licence. The Licence permits the use of extracts from printed books and journals for e-learning, subject to terms and restrictions.

The Digital Readings Service will automatically check and process suitable material referenced on online reading lists, obtaining either original items or copyright cleared items as appropriate. The DRS will then add licensed readings to a secure location, linked to the entry on the relevant online reading list. Staff and students will be able to click through to full text when browsing lists in Blackboard Learn, or directly from the online reading list page.

Under the Licence terms:

  • Scanned extracts may only be prepared by Designated Persons registered with the Copyright Licensing Agency
  • Scanned extracts must bear the CLA Copyright Notice 
  • Details of any existing scanned extracts must be sent to the Digital Readings Service for checking and processing in accordance with the CLA Licence terms and copyright law.

Further terms, exclusions and copying limits apply. See the following web pages for more information:

Electronic books and journals

Subscription based content from e-books, e-journals and databases is already available in electronic format, so there are few occasions where a hyperlink to the material will not be sufficient. Staff and students can normally access e-resources we subscribe to after logging into the University network and e-Library.

When extracts from e-materials appear on reading lists, we recommend using hyperlinks to the material where possible. Most electronic resources allow hyperlinking, but there are some exceptions (eg Harvard Business Review). Links to content in online reading lists allows each view or download to be recorded, which allows the Library to better measure usage, relevance and value for money of our e-collections.

As there are administrative costs involved, the DRS will not normally authorise use of e-content as digital readings, except where the subscription agreement does not allow sufficient use but the CLA Licence does.

Web content

As of 1 August 2013, the CLA Licence covers the use of some free-to-view websites for teaching and learning, only if the website does not already authorise or license copying itself.

As with e-books and e-journals, there should be little need to reproduce most web content - a hyperlink should be enough. However, web content is sometimes removed, so there are occasions where it may be necessary to download content to make it available for teaching and learning. 

Before doing so, you must first check the website for a copyright statement, usage terms, or a licence authorising copying for educational purposes. If it does not have one, or does not allow it, the Digital Readings Service can check whether the website is covered under the CLA Licence. However, you will need to notify us directly if you wish to do this instead of using a hyperlink. Alternatively, you can contact the website / copyright owner directly for permission.


The University holds a licence from the Educational Recordings Agency (ERA) covering the use of off-air recordings of televised broadcasts, and some on-demand broadcasts (eg from BBC iPlayer) in lectures and seminars. These off-air recordings can also be made available in fixed format (DVD or VHS) in the Library.  However, the Licence currently held by the University, does not cover the use of off-air broadcasts in Blackboard Learn, unless it is technically possible to restrict access and viewing to those who are physically located on campus. 

Page last updated: Thursday 19 September 2013