Copyright for students

When studying at Kent you'll be using and creating works protected by copyright. This page gives you the general information you need to help you in your studies and future career. If you're a law or creative arts student, you may cover copyright in more depth as part of your course.

Creative works such as books, photographs, music and film are all protected by copyright automatically when written down, recorded or saved.

This gives the copyright owner the right to decide what you're allowed to do with that work. You should make sure your use of copyright works is legal.

If you infringe copyright by using someone else’s work unfairly and without permission you may be liable for legal action.

Licensed resources

Most of the books, journals, databases and software you use in your studies are protected by copyright. Your tuition fees help us pay licence fees that allow us to provide you with the resources you need.

These licences allow you to access these resources for your studies, but don’t allow you to share them with others online.

You may want to copy or share works that are not covered by a licence paid for by the University. In some cases you'll need permission from the copyright holder:

  • if you want to publicly perform a play, you need to contact a theatrical agency such as Concord Theatricals
  • if you want to show films to a public audience in a non-educational setting, you need to get permission from an organisation like Filmbank.

In other cases your activity may be covered by copyright exceptions even if you don't have a licence.

Copyright exceptions

There are exceptions to copyright that allow you to make copies of copyright works and use them when writing coursework, essays and other projects without a licence. For example, you may need to:

  • quote some text from a book in an assignment or incorporate film clips into a video essay
  • make copies or adapt works if you have a disability.

It's important that your use of copyright material is fair to the copyright owner and that you always credit the author or producers of the works you're using.

If you have specific questions about using other people’s copyright in a fair and legal way, we can help.

You own the copyright in the original scholarly work you create at the Kent. This includes personal lecture notes, essays and examination responses in any form.

If you create copyright material in collaboration with others, you'll share the copyright ownership. If you create work with significant input from Kent staff, the University may own the copyright in it, which will affect what you are able to do with it. Contact us if you need advice.

If you're a PhD student and have used other people's work in your thesis follow the guidance on including copyright or sensitive material when depositing your thesis into KAR.

You'll also need to consider the options for making your thesis available Open Access.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing, but you should avoid doing either.

  • Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s work as your own, even if you don’t copy their precise words or creative expression.
  • Copyright infringement means copying or sharing someone else’s creative work without their permission - this can happen even if you're not representing their work as your own. Using peer-to-peer software puts you at risk of copyright infringement.

Work you submit for assessment must be your own original work. Our General Regulations for Students clarify that you are "required to act with honesty and integrity." That means not plagiarising someone else’s work by copying it and pretending that it's yours.


We provide advice, training and specific guidance on copyright law to support you in your work and study. If you have any questions about copyright, email:

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