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Who owns the copyright to a university teacher's recorded lecture? Do the students have the right to record lectures? What happens to your teaching material when you retire? Questions about copyright are many and complex and as technology develops, the questions become more numerous.

Copyright - questions and answers

Below are the FAQs received by SULF concerning copyright issues which Sanna Wolk answers in the SULF booklet entitled 'Universitetslärares copyright' (in Swedish). In order to read all the FAQs, including those on contracts and payment, order the booklet from SULF.

Can I get help from SULF?
Yes. Contact our local union representatives, see contact info here.

Traditionally the university teacher, and not the university, owns the copyright to teaching or research material. Consequently the university normally may not use the teacher’s copyright-protected material without permission.

No there is no difference. Copyright, and the intellectual property rights of academic staff, apply to both teachers and researchers in the same way.

There is an intellectual property rights of academic staff stated in the u003cemu003eRight to Inventions by Employees Actu003c/emu003e. However there is also such an exception within copyright. This follows a tradition that has been observed for a very long period of time and is described in several government reports.

As copyright owner, teachers make their own decisions as to whether presentations or other material is put up on the course webpage. It is necessary that the university has gained the permission of the teacher to store the teaching material digitally. Consequently the university may not transfer digital material in any other manner to the students, for example by e-mail. The teacher’s permission is necessary to do this.

According to the intellectual property rights of academic staff, copyright of lectures belongs to the teacher, and the university must obtain the teacher’s permission to put recorded lectures up on the course webpage.

Changes, updates, reworking (or similar) of teaching material is only permitted if the owner of the copyright, the teacher, grants approval.

If the university is entitled to use the material for teaching, this does not mean that the university is allowed to make changes to it – the teacher must also be contacted in this case. If there is no permission in place then altering the material is an infringement of the teacher’s copyright.

Students may, according to the private copying regulations in the Copyright Act, record teaching. No permission from the teacher is required. However the right to copy for private use may be limited if the teacher, as a condition of participation in the lecture, states that no recordings may be made. The university may also apply a local recording ban via local regulations.

Students may not then give their recordings to their fellow students or put them up on websites such as Youtube or Facebook. This is the illegal use of the teacher’s copyright-protected lecture and is an infringement of the teacher’s copyright.

The copyright owner, the teacher, determines whether the teaching material is to be copied and who is to receive the copies. However teaching material is normally registered as an official document which means that other teachers or students may request a copy of the course material in accordance with the principal of public access to official documents.

The copyright owner, the teacher, makes all decisions concerning his/her own copyright-protected material. You may hand it over if you wish to but you cannot be compelled to hand over your copyright-protected material to someone else

It is entirely up to you whether you wish to put up your material online. If the university wishes to put the course material online then they must have permission from the copyright owner.

This is not a copyright issue, this is a question of working tasks. Normally a teacher is not duty-bound to allow him/herself to be recorded, however if teachers are employed to supply, for example, distance teaching then there is a duty inherent in their employment conditions.

Please note that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may also be applicable as this may be an issue of processing of personal data.

SULF recommends that you discuss copyright terms with your employer before recording any lectures or lessons. This may involve such matters as the scope of the university’s right to use the material which is to be used for distance teaching, e.g. recorded lectures, compendia and study assignments, and how the material is to be updated and quality assured. It is SULF’s view that, as a general rule, the intellectual property rights of academic staff apply to materials used in distance education.

If you have any questions regarding copyright and intellectual property issues, please contact the local union representative at your higher education institution.

You can find more information about copyright and the intellectual property rights of academic staff here.

As for anyone else, the Copyright Act is fully applicable for doctoral candidates. If a person has produced material that meets the requirements of originality, that person retains the copyright to the material. The copyright is not affected by the fact that the person who produced the material is a doctoral candidate. What can complicate the issue is copyrighted material may be the result of several people working in collaboration, for example supervisors collaborating with doctoral candidates. If such cases, they share the copyright.