In the academic domain, students, lecturers and researchers all have to consider copyright issues in their work. In the Netherlands, copyright is regulated by the Copyright Act (Auteurswet).
On this page you will find general information about copyright that everyone should know.
Copyright is the exclusive right of the creator of a work to make it public and to reproduce it, the so-called 'exploitation rights'.
Exploitation rights are automatic rights and apply up to seventy years after the death of the creator. When the creator is a juridical person (for instance a foundation or a company) the exploitation rights are valid up to seventy years after the first publication of the work.
What is a work?
A work can be a book, an article, a piece of music, illustration, film, computer program, psychological test, knowledge clip, etc.
Certain works fall outside the scope of copyright legislation, such as laws, regulations, court decisions and decrees.
But almost every publication, electronic or otherwise, is protected by copyright, provided the work has a unique and original character.
Making public and reproducing
Examples of making works public are: publishing, uploading, showing, playing etc.
In the case of reproducing you could think of: copying, scanning, downloading, saving etc.
Under the Copyright Act, the title holder is usually the person who created the work. If several persons have supplied an original contribution to the creation of the work, all creators are copyright holders together. Copyright holders are granted copyright protection.
Copyright can be (partially) assigned to third parties, for instance to publishers.
After the death of the creator(s), the copyright is transferred to the heirs. They can exercise their rights up to seventy years after the first publication of the work.
Article 7 of the Dutch Copyright Act, in which the employer's copyright is laid down, also applies to academic staff. This means that Utrecht University is regarded as copyright holder.
- Researchers: in their daily practice, Utrecht University authors can make their own choices as if they were copyright holders, for instance in contracts with publishers or in choosing to share the publication under a specific licence, such as a Creative Commons Licence.
- Lecturers: In their daily practice UU lecturers can make their own choices, as if they were copyright holders, for instance to determine if and under what conditions their teaching material is shared. UU advises to share teaching materials under the Creative Comons licences CC-BY or CC-BY-SA.
To make use of copyrighted work you need permission from the copyright holder. There are exceptions to the rule, provided you mention the source:
You may only use a quote if this is relevant to your argument, and it may only be a small part of it. This applies to both text and pictures. So quoting to embellish your work is not allowed. Licensed illustrations allowing reuse such as in the case of Creative Commons licences can often be freely used, dependent on the stipulations of the licence. You will find more information in the LibGuide Citing.
A paraphrase is putting the text from a source in your own words. You are not allowed to change the tenor of the work. You will find more information in the LibGuide Citing.
Creating a hyperlink to a source
You are always allowed to link to material that is freely available on the internet (provided it concerns material that has been made public in a rightful way). You are also allowed to link to online material that is not freely available, if the University Library has a licence for the use of this material within Utrecht University. Use as many permanent hyperlinks as possible. These are not session-bound, so the source can always be retraced. You can recognize a hyperlink by terms such as permalink, stable URL, deeplink, DOI. Please note: a hyperlink is not an acknowledgement of the source, but only a reference to its location.
Making copies for personal use
You can make a copy of copyrighted work for personal, non-commercial use (practice, study). This personal copy may not be given to third parties.
Copyrighted computer programs (such as software and games) and online databases fall outside the rule for personal use. You may only make copies with the permission of the copyright holder.
If you (re)use work by others, you must always state the source. Your sources must be checkable and findable. Academic integrity also requires you to state your sources when a publication belongs to the public domain.
When you do not mention sources, you are committing plagiarism. Plagiarism is a form of fraud and goes against academic integrity.
What are the requirements for stating your sources?
- Refer to your sources in accordance with the citation style of your discipline. Give at least the following information: title, author, publisher and year of publication. In the case of journals and newspapers, add volume and issue number (or date).
In the LibGuide Citing you will read all about referring to sources.
- In the case of search engines that offer copyright-free material you only need to mention '[short title illustration] or 'Source: Pixaby' or 'Source: Wikipedia Commons'.
Also provide the CC-licence here.
A hyperlink is not a source, but only refers to the location of the source.
Have a look at the LibGuide Citing for extensive information on using sources.
Laws, resolutions, regulations, judicial decisions and administrative decisions belong to the public domain. These works are copyright-free and may therefore be reproduced freely. Also parliamentary records, minutes from council meetings or government reports, created and made public by the government, may be wholly and freely reproduced, unless there are copyright restrictions.
Academic integrity also demands stating your sources when a publication belongs to the public domain.
Database law, like copyright is an intellectual property right. A database is protected if it is the result of a substantial investment. That means either money, time or effort have been invested. If so, you are not allowed to copy or ask for large amounts of the database without permission. The producer of a database has the exclusive right to run it.
Geografical information (from maps) can be protected under database law. Databases with legal information can also be protected.