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Information Literacy

Copyright Issues

Any work you have created, even if it is only laying in your desk drawer, is protected by copyright. The main rule for copyrights is that it applies for as long as the creator lives and 70 years after his or her year of death.

The copyright sets in automatically when the work is created. In order for a work to be protected by copyright, it must be established as a piece of work. It can be established if it is the product of independent and original creative work. Copyrights cannot protect an idea, a subject, or a plot; you cannot plagiarize a poem written by someone else, but you can write your own version on the same subject. How similar the poems are decides whether they are two different works of art.

The creator does not need to register, publish or mark the work with a © sign.

  • Creator = the person who has created a work
  • Work = the product of any creative work, such as a text of fiction or fact, a painting, a photograph, a composition, a computer program or a web site
  • Owner's right = In addition to the copyright, a copy may be encumbered with the owner’s right. When you buy a book from a bookstore you will acquire the owner’s rights to the copy, but the copyright remains with the author. After buying the copy, you may sell it or lend it to others. To lend films or computer programs, you always need the permission of the creator.

The copyright gives the creator both economic and moral rights:

  • Economic rights = ensure that only the creator has the right to exploit the work. This means that the creator alone may determine how to manufacture copies of the work and how to offer the copies to the public. Separate contracts always have to be made for transferring all or part of the economic rights to another party (e.g. a company) and for the compensation.
  • Moral rights = protect the creator’s honour. These rights require the name of the creator to be mentioned every time the work is used, in accordance with usual practices. The work may not be changed in a way that dishonors the creator. The creator can only partially give up the moral rights.

Watch the tutorial to learn more about copyright:

Exceptions to Copyright

The main exception to copyrights relates to private use. It is allowed to make a few copies of an original legal copy of a work for private use. This means that you cannot e.g. make a copy for private use of a music file on the web if it is distributed illegally. It is also forbidden to distribute copies of a legal copy made for private use.

Another exception that concerns the academic community is the right to quote protected material. You may quote the material in accordance with good academic practices, as much as is needed for your purposes, and in a relevant context; keep in mind that you have to mention the source whenever quoting.

Creative Commons





Creative commons (CC) is an organization which offers several copyright-licenses used to define how to use and spread a work. You can use the CC-licenses on your own material, e.g. when uploading photos on a web page. There are four different criterias defining the licenses:

BY (Attribution) = The author must be mentioned

NC (Non-Commersial) = Not for commercial use

ND (No Derivative Works) = Not modifiable

SA (Share Alike)= Must be shared with the same license

The link below helps you choose the right license for your material;

Learn more on the different creative commons licenses:

Copyright and Universities

The Ministry of Education and Culture has made a broader arrangement for photocopying and digitalization (such as scanning) for educational needs.

If teachers and students follow the licence agreements of the Kopiosto Digilupa they are allowed to scan printed publications and copy text and images from open websites for theses or enclosed study environments, such as ItsLearning.


Any infringements on copyrights will be followed by an obligation to compensate the creator for the damage caused. Penal codes have been enacted for the more blatant offences.

Test your knowledge on Copyright

Check your knowledge on copyrights and social media with these quizes;