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Copyright: the ERA licence for off-air recordings

What is the ERA licence?

The Educational Recording Agency (ERA) licence permits the recording of scheduled, free to air broadcasts, enabling the University to create libraries or repositories of broadcasts which can be used for teaching and learning.

The ERA licence covers a wide range of Freeview and Freesat channels including programmes made by or commissioned for BBC television and radio, ITV Network services including ITV2 and ITV3, Channel 4, Film Four and E4, Channel 5, S4C and Open University broadcasts.

It does not cover encrypted or encoded broadcasts, pay-per-view, or on-demand and interactive services protected by digital rights management software, except where permitted by the service provider. Check the terms and conditions of each service.

Satellite broadcasts are not generally covered by this licence, but recordings may be made under the terms of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act, 1988 (Section 35).

Under the ERA licence you cannot copy purchased CDs, tapes, DVDs or videos.

Further information is available via the ERA website.

How does the licence work?

Recording and copying under the licence can take place:

  • on the premises of the University by or under the direct supervision of a lecturer or employee of the University e.g. technician, librarian
  • at the residence of a lecturer employed by the University, by that lecturer
  • at the premises of a third party under contractual agreement to make copies on behalf of the University (e.g. a local health promotion unit nominated by the University to record and copy material on its behalf)
  • at the premises of an authorised resource centre

Recordings are to be made and used for educational, non-commercial purposes only.

What is the main purpose of showing/watching a programme or an extract of a programme?

Recreational or promotional purposes are not considered ‘educational’.

Who can use the recordings?

Students enrolled at the University, lecturers, and other employees directly involved with the students’ education can watch or listen to the recordings, for educational purposes.

UK-based students, including distance learning students, may borrow licensed recordings on CD or DVD or view online over a secure network.

Overseas students cannot be supplied with recordings either in analogue or electronic format.


Extracts or clips from a programme may be recorded and then stored in either analogue or digital form. No adaptation is allowed such as removing the soundtrack, replacing the commentary or changing the original concept of the programme. Programme credits are considered part of a broadcast and should not be edited from recordings. The ERA licence does not permit printing captured still pictures from ERA recordings.


Multiple copies of recordings can be made, under the terms of the ERA licence. The copies cannot be sold, or hired out or shown to an audience (private or public) who have paid to see the performance. The licence does not permit creating any derivative work from any ERA recording except for personal non-commercial educational use.

Can ERA recordings be viewed online?

Programmes recorded under the ERA licence may be stored on a server but must only be accessed by enrolled students and members of staff by means of a secure electronic network.

ERA recordings can be added to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), such as MyBeckett, as long as all the terms of the ERA licence are met.

Students based outside of the UK are not permitted access to such recordings under the ERA licence.

Licensed recordings can be displayed in class via an interactive whiteboard or included in PowerPoint presentations, under the terms of the ERA licence. Such PowerPoint presentations can subsequently be made available via MyBeckett for educational purposes, provided that access is limited to the UK.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB):

Lecturers can schedule programmes using Box of Broadcasts, an online TV and radio recording service which operates under the ERA licence.

Off-air recordings can be requested up to 30 days after broadcast.

Search over a million programmes already available on Box of Broadcasts.
Login details are available on the Library website.

Do recordings need ERA labelling?

All recordings should be labelled with the following:

  • date of the recording
  • title of the programme
  • name of the broadcaster
  • the statement:
    This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence

For digital recordings stored on a server this information should be displayed as a written credit or web page which must be viewed or listened to before the recording can be accessed.

Recordings stored digitally on Box of Broadcasts will include the ERA notice as a written opening credit to be viewed before access to the recording is permitted.

Programme information is stored with the recording.

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Page last updated: 11/12/2019

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