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Copyright Guidelines for Staff & Students of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS): Preparing Teaching Material

This LibGuide provides definitions, legislation and procedures for copyright clearance for teaching and research purposes.

How to Plan your Teaching Materia before applying for permissionl

  • Check inside printed publications, or read the copyright information on webpages and electronic databases, as some publishers/database suppliers allow multiple copying for educational or non-commercial purposes.
  • Try to use journal articles in the Library e-Resources on the Library Website.  if using material from these e-resources onSAKAI, WebCT, Moodle or any other e-learning tool, place the URL (not the full-text item) on instead. If you place the full-text item on the e-learning tool, you will need to obtain copyright clearance, but we will also be paying twice for copyright fees. Copyright fees are included in the e-subscriptions. Staff and students are entitled to download copies of articles for 'fair dealing' purposes.
  • Where possible, make copies from works where copyright is clearly in the public domain (i.e. copyright has expired) or where rightsholders clearly allow reproduction without permission, e.g. free or Open Access content.  Material in the public domain may be used freely without permission as it is no longer under copyright protection.  See tab above on Copyright Term of Protection.
  • Where possible, place original books or journal issues on Short Loan for short periods, rather than making photocopies.
  • Consider reducing the number of pages for which permission is required, or supplement with your own material (e.g. introductions or overviews).
  • Consider approaching a local publisher to do an abridged publication or a South African edition, if necessary
  • Encourage students to 'sharpen' their research skills by accessing the original works themselves, either in the Library or via the internet and/or electronic databases. Rather give them the URL hyperlink than a photocopy/scanned copy of the material (especially for SAKAI).
  • Use free works (printed or digital). There are millions of free online  works and Open Access material available for use, without copyright permission. Some authors/creators/organizations place printed and digital material in the public domain, so that it can be used freely, i.e. without permission.
  • For printed works, always check inside to see whether there are any free concessions. On the internet, there are millions of free works. To find them, do a keyword search on 'Google', 'Yahoo'or another search engine, e.g. "free books", "free e-books", "free journals","free [science or other subject] journals". "free photographs". "free images", "free articles", "free online, full-text articles", "free architectural drawings or symbols". "free art or clip art", "free diagrams", "free graphs", "free posters", etc.
  • Use peer-reviewed Open Access journal articles - see: Directory of Open Access Journals and the Directory of Open Access Books.
  • Use free works via Creative Commons Licences. There are thousands of free images, architectural designs,artefacts, graphs, maps, artworks, photographs, video clips, texts, educational works, etc. on the Creative Commons website. Do a search under the topic or image you want, and then click on the item. It will give you. Additional information which explains what rights have been reserved, e.g. Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works and Share Alike (Share Alike only applies to Derivative works). As long as you abide by the conditions of the applicable Creative Commons Licence, you may include the work in your research report, project, paper, book, ETD, etc., without having to apply for permission. N.B.  Do not use the Non-Commercial Licence if you intend publishing your works commercially in the future as Creative Commons licences are irrevocable.


N.B. Even though works may be used freely, they may not be used in any way that will infringe the moral rights of authors/creators (i.e. their right to claim authorship of the work and to have protection against unjustifiable distortion, mutilation or other modification of their works).

Acknowledgement is always necessary.