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If an item is still in copyright then students and researchers may make a single copy of a limited amount of a work (usually up to 10%), for their own non-commercial research or private study.

The exception for research and private study applies to all types of copyright work, however, this 'fair dealing' exception in law can only apply if:

  • The purpose of the use is non-commercial research and/or private study
  • The use of the materials is fair
  • The use is made by researchers or students for their own use only
  • Researchers give credit to the copyright holder

If the copying is not covered by the above, then generally you will require the permission of the copyright holder, and we may require evidence of written permission before we can process an order.

If you need further advice regarding what copyright covers, how long it lasts or anything else then please see our copyright guidance pages. Or contact our Copyright Guidance Service at

Tracing Copyright Holders

Tracing copyright holders can be complex, but the following list records some useful sources of information and possible routes for tracking down copyright holders in the UK. Many of these are taken from the invaluable copyright pages of the first resource (WATCH), and from The National Archives:

  • Search the WATCH database: this provides copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent people in other creative fields.
  • Search Firms Out of Business: a companion resource to WATCH which records information about printing and publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies and similar organisations which are no longer in existence.
  • Contact authors' or artists' societies, e.g. the Society of Authors or the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.
  • Check acknowledgements, notes and references in publications about the person you are interested in.
  • Contact publishers, biographers, academic researchers or literary agencies associated with the author you are interested in.
  • Contact libraries or other institutions which hold the principal archives of the individual or organisation you are interested in. 
  • Check genealogical and legal sources, e.g. wills of people who have died in England or Wales are publicly available at the Probate Office in London.
  • Undertake general web searches, including sites like
  • Try sending a letter to the author's or artist's last known address.
  • Check the Library of Congress copyright page, which includes links to sources of copyright information.
  • Check biographical databases like Who Was Who and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Check any relevant licensing agencies: these are organisations which act on behalf of rights owners, issuing licenses and collecting fees on their behalf. Some of the major agencies include:
  • As a last resort, publish a notice in appropriate newspapers, journals or newsletters, e.g. the London Gazette, the Times or the Times Literary Supplement

The University of Manchester is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.