Copyright advice

We are here to help LSE students and staff with their copyright queries

Get in touch with your questions or explore guidance through a variety of sources. 


What is copyright? 

Copyright is part of a wider set of intellectual property rights which offer protection and certain exclusive rights to the owner(s) of the rights in a work. For example, copyright laws usually grant the creator of a work the exclusive right to reproduce that work or prepare derivative works. 

In the UK the key piece of legislation is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). 


Information for teaching staff 

Your copyright and teaching materials

As a member of staff you will create content in the course of your employment. The School’s Intellectual Property Policy includes information on copyright ownership in relation to teaching materials and scholarly works.

Providing scanned copies of readings to students

There are limits on the proportion of text that can be copied / scanned and made available to students on a course. LSE subscribes to the CLA’s Higher Education licence which sets out what is permitted. The Library provides a scanned readings and reading list service which provides content for reading lists within the boundaries of the licence. 

Showing films, television and radio programmes

LSE subscribes to the ERA licence, access to film and radio content is provided via BOB, Box of Broadcasts.  

Additionally, you can show films or play recorded audio to students without needing permission from the copyright owner in lecture or seminar rooms due to a specific copyright exception covering the performing, playing or showing work in the course of the activities of an educational establishment.

If you are teaching online and wish to show film or broadcast material, please contact the Copyright Officer to discuss how this can be delivered within the legal copyright framework.  

Use of images in lecture presentations or other teaching material

Copyright exists in diagrams, works of art, photographs and other visual media. The two main copyright exceptions that allow you to use this work in an educational setting are: 

Criticism, review or quotation and/or Illustration for instruction

Use must be fair, so not adversely affect the copyright owner’s ability to profit from their work and you must not use more of the work than is necessary to support the point you’re making. You must also acknowledge the creator of the work (by referencing the work). 

Increasingly Creative Commons licensing is used both in relation to images, and other work. You do not need to pay to use these resources, or ask their creators for permission – though you do need to adhere to the terms of the licence.  Read more about Creative Commons.  


Information for researchers (includes PhD) 

Copyright and scholarly works

With a few, clearly defined exceptions you own the copyright to the scholarly work (eg, journal article or monograph) that you create whilst working or studying at the LSE. Full details can be found in the School’s Intellectual Property Policy.

The use of Intellectual Property (including copyright) is also referenced in the LSE Principles of Authorship guidance.

Preparing to publish

You can find information about your rights as an author, including signing publishing agreements and book contracts, on the Open Access webpages. 

If you want to include third-party material in your work, you will need to check whether you need to obtain permission to include it. If the material is openly licensed or subject to one of the legal exemptions to copyright law, you will not need to seek permission. You can discuss this with your publisher when preparing your submission. 

If you want to publish Gold Open Access, most publishers will allow you to retain the copyright to your work and assign a Creative Commons licence which clearly stipulates how others can reuse and share your work. Check the individual policy of your publisher/journal for more information. 

If you have any queries about copyright and authors rights when preparing your work for publication, get in touch with the Library’s Scholarly Communications Officer. The Research and Innovation division and Legal Team are also well positioned to advise on intellectual property considerations in relation to publication of your work. 

Text & Data Mining

Text and data mining is the practice of using technology to scan large amounts of data or text in order to identify themes, issues and correlations across different publications. Currently this practice is permissible under UK copyright law for the purposes of research conducted for non-commercial reasons. This means that as long as the works are accessed lawfully (for example, via a subscription which LSE has paid for or via an open access route) it is permitted for researchers at LSE to perform text and data mining.  

However, it is important to be aware of other contractual or rights issues or technical restrictions which may prevent text and data mining. For this reason, we recommend that any researcher who wishes to perform text and data mining contact the library in advance.    

We can then liaise with the publisher and make arrangements for the text and data mining to take place. Often this just involves us alerting them that a request for text and data mining has been made and arranging a scheduled time for it to take place, other times a more technical solution is required. If you would like to make a request for text and data mining then please contact us at   

Special Data Agreements

Sometimes in your research you may need to sign a special agreement for access to data eg, from specific organisations. Often these agreements may include clauses which affect your intellectual property rights eg, for future publication. These should be checked before signing (or signed by an official signatory at LSE). Please send any special agreements to so they can be checked for you by LSE experts. 

Useful links: 

Open Access

Open Access (OA) publishing makes material free to readers at the point of access and means that they can use and share it with others. LSE has an Open Access Publications Policy, and further information relating to Open Access can be found on the Library website. It includes guidance on complying with funder requirements as well as information on LSE Research Online. Research outputs submitted to the repository  are made available in full text, if permitted by the publisher. All necessary copyright checks are carried out by Library staff on authors’ behalf. 

Copyright and your Thesis

You own the copyright to your thesis (unless your output is covered by one of the exceptions laid out in the School’s Intellectual Property policy). The LSE retains the right to copy and use student created content for the purposes of research, teaching and other uses within the School. (See section 3 of the School’s Intellectual Property Policy.) LSE Theses are published via LSE Theses Online.  

Third party content is content that you may use in your thesis that comes from other sources. You need to consider whether this content falls within exceptions to copyright law, or if you need to seek permission from the rights holder to include it in your thesis. More information about who to contact for advice can be found in Copyright & Your Thesis – A Guide for Research Students


Information for students 

As an LSE student, you own the copyright to the work that you produce. If you create material as part of a group then you will share copyright ownership. Section 3 of LSE’s Intellectual Property Policy provides further information. If you wish to publish work that you have produced whilst a student at LSE, the publishing advice service can provide guidance.  

Using other people’s copyrighted material 


LSE pays licence fees so that we can provide you with the resources you need. These include licences that allow us to scan chapters from books (CLA), to provide access to films, TV programmes and radio broadcasts (ERA) and to copy from newspapers (NLA). We also sign licences with ebook and database providers. These allow you to access resources for your studies, but don’t allow you to share them with others online.  

Copyright exceptions

The law includes copyright exceptions, which allow you to use copyrighted material in your presentations, essays, and other projects. You can quote text from a book or journal article, or include a diagram or image for example. However, you do need to credit the creator of the work, and you must make sure that your use is fair (so do not use more of the work than is needed to support the point you are making), and make sure that you’re not preventing the creator from profiting from their work. If you’re not sure whether the amount you are using is fair, please ask for advice.  


Using Creative Commons, Open Access, and Open Educational Resources  

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licensing is increasingly popular, and can be used without having to pay for content, or ask for permission to use it. You do, however, need to acknowledge the creator, and some of the CC licences have restrictions, such as being for non-commercial use only or requiring you to use the work in exactly the way it’s been made available.  

There are a number of sites where you can search for resources created using these licences, the search on the Creative Commons website is a good starting point. 

Open Access

LSE Research Online contains information on, and in many cases links to the full text, of LSE authored research outputs. LSE Theses Online provides full text access to PhD students’ work.  

To locate Open Access research papers, try CORE, which searches across content produced from around the world.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Part of the Open Access movement, OERs are resources that are either in the public domain, or are licensed in a way that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to reuse, revise and redistribute. The OU’s OpenLearn platform, and TEDEd are examples of OER creators. 


Generative AI and copyright

AI technologies and LSE licenced resources

Whilst most of our licence agreements pre-date the widespread use of Large Language Models (LLMs) and Generative Artificial Intelligence and, therefore, do not explicitly mention these technologies, they do include clauses that prohibit the uploading of content into third-party applications. Additionally, the terms of use for AI technologies typically advise that users should only upload their own creative content and require that a licence is granted to the LLM for its re-use. As we do not hold the copyright in the material that we subscribe to, please do not upload it to AI technologies as this will violate both our contractual terms and the technologies’ terms of use.

If you have questions relating to this, please contact

Generative AI: Developing your AI Literacy (course for LSE members)

The Moodle course Generative AI: Developing your AI Literacy,  provides a useful introduction to this relatively new area of Artificial Intelligence. Sitting within section 2.2: Risks and Harms of Generative AI is a short section entitled ‘Disputed Ownership and Copyright Infringement’ which we suggest you read.

Before using Generative AI, think both about the copyright material of others (3rd party copyright) which may have been used, without permission, to train the LLM (Large Language Model). How might this affect your use? Also read the Terms & Conditions of the tool that you’re using (eg, Chat-GPT, Google Bard). Do they use the inputs that you enter to train their LLM? Who owns the outputs produced by the tool?

This is a complex and fast-developing area, please contact with questions relating to this area.


Library contacts 

  • Copyright Officer – for general queries relating to use of copyright in your academic work / teaching.
  • Scholarly Communications Officer  - for guidance relating to managing your own copyright as an author.
  •  Data Library – for questions around text and data mining and data access agreements.  
  • LSE Research Online – for information relating to depositing your research outputs.
  • LSE Theses Online – for queries regarding clearing copyright permissions in your thesis. 
  • Your Librarian – for assistance with questions about scanned readings and Reading Lists @ LSE. 
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