As a university teacher and researcher, you might come across some questions related to copyright, for instance:
- When can I use material from other researchers that is protected by copyright, for example sounds or pictures?
- In what ways am I protected by copyright?
- How do I license my own material so that other people can use and distribute it digitally, without my copyright for the work is being breached?
What is copyright?
The copyright is protected by constitutional law and is stated in the Instrument of Government chapter 2, and further regulated in the Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (SFS 1960:729). The law gives the creator a number of rights and hereby regulates when and how someone is allowed to use the work of the creator. The user must fulfil a few obligations to use the work, but the basic rule is that one needs to ask permission from the copyright holder before using his or her work. The creator is always a natural person, never a juridical person.
What is protected by copyright is the literary and artistic creation, that is the creative expression of the work. Copyright law never protects motives, facts, or ideas. Copyright arises automatically if:
- The work is new, which means that it differs from earlier work.
- The work is not too small.
- The work has what is called a threshold of originality.
Threshold of originality is a measurement to distinguish works that are sufficiently original. The work must have such a unique expression that two people, independent from each other, could not reasonably have achieved the same result.
Copyright applies for as long as the author is alive and for another 70 years after his or her death. If the work is anonymous, the copyright applies for 70 years after the publication of the work.
Copyright and Internet
Internet has made it easier to disseminate work of others that is protected by copyright. To make it easier for the user to use and disseminate material covered by copyright there are different licenses. One example of this is CopyLeft which is a license for software and Creative Commons which licenses other work. Creative Commons enables the creator to regulate in what ways you can use his or her work.
The use of other people’s material when teaching
When you teach you probably need to use the work of others. For this purpose, there is an agreement regarding bonuses that regulates how many copies you can copy from for instance course books. Creative Commons are licenses that gives you an opportunity to freely use someone’s copyright protected work without asking permission. Both the Bonus Agreement and Creative Commons aim at facilitating usage at the same time as the copyright holder is protected.
The Bonus Agreement
Bonus Copyright Access is an organisation founded in 1973. On behalf of creators/authors and through agreements they control how, for instance, universities may use and disseminate analogue and digital copyright protected material. The agreement covers both university teachers and students and comprises the possibility to download, scan, photograph, photocopy, distribute paper copies, and more, from work that has been made public.
How much you and your students can copy differs.
Creative Commons is a global non-profit organisation that aims at enabling sharing and reuse of work with the help of a set of licenses that give creators a chance to control the terms for how their work can be used, adapted, and made available to others. National law is fundamental. The creator could for example never give away the moral rights of their protected copyright, while the financial right could be sold or given to someone else.
There are several linked factors leading to the foundation of Creative Commons. Foremost, Internet followed by a traditional American idea about the freedom of man, the need to spread a free code, and Wikipedia as a free resource for knowledge shared and used by everyone. By using a work with a license from Creative Commons (CC BY), the user has automatically made an agreement with the creator according to the terms of the license. The bottom line is that CC BY licenses automatically gives the user the right to use and disseminate a work, with the condition that the name of the creator always must be mentioned. The creator could also connect other terms and conditions in five different combinations.
Protecting your own material
As mentioned above, you are automatically protected by copyright law if your work has reached the so-called threshold of originality. This generally applies for all material created with the aim of teaching. Note that your own research in the form of for example articles may be subject to other copyright protection belonging to the person that has published the articles. Often, research data does not reach the threshold of originality but can be covered by the so-called database right or the principle of public access to official documents. If you have some work reaching the threshold of originality that you would like to share, you could create your own CC BY license.