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Copyright for Blackboard Learn

If you intend to share content in an electronic environment such as Blackboard Learn, where it can be viewed by multiple users, you will need to have the copyright owner's explicit permission, or be covered by a licence or a relevant statutory exception to copyright. This applies to all copyright material, even to 'free to view' content on the Internet.

As part of its audit programme, the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) may ask to inspect University systems including Blackboard Learn, to monitor compliance with the terms of the University's CLA Higher Education Licence.

It is important to make sure you are sharing content legally, to avoid you or the University being liable for breach of contract or copyright infringement.

The following information will help you work out whether the content you wish to use is covered and what you need to do.

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

Books and journals

Extracts from books and journals should not be uploaded to Blackboard Learn. Instead, these should be requested through the Digital Readings Service (DRS) which is designated to prepare digital extracts for educational use in Blackboard Learn in compliance with the University's CLA Higher Education Licence.

The DRS will verify whether an extract is licensed or excluded for use in Blackboard Learn using the CLA's Check Permissions tool and advise accordingly. For more information, see:

Electronic books and journals

As e-books and e-journals are already available in digital format, we recommend that a hyperlink to the content you need is added to the online reading list for the course or module. You should adhere to the resource's policy on hyperlinking, if applicable. Many e-resources allow hyperlinking at article level, but there are some notable exceptions, e.g. Harvard Business Review, so please check first.

We will not normally obtain content we subscribe to electronically as digital readings because of the ongoing administration required to maintain them. However, we may do so, where the CLA Licence is more generous than the permissions in the subscription agreement. If this is not sufficient for your needs, we can advise further.

Using hyperlinks allows each view or download to be recorded, allowing the Library and content providers to better measure usage, relevance and value for money of our e-resources.

Web content

The CLA Licence now covers the use of some free-to-view websites for teaching and learning, and can be used if the website does not already authorise or license the 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 over a longer period for teaching and learning needs. 

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. 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.