Below are the FAQs received by SULF concerning copyright issues which Sanna Wolk answers in the SULF booklet entitled ‘Universitetslärares copyright’. 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 Right to Inventions by Employees Act. 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.
Yes. If something is to be protected by copyright it must contain a certain amount of independence and originality, what is termed its level of originality. However, requirements concerning independence and originality are not strict and, in practice, most material that is lectured, written, drawn or created in any other way is protected by copyright.
There may be exceptions, see the question If the teacher is paid to work extra hours to create this course material, does this affect copyright?
Yes, in this situation a department, or the equivalent at a university, may have acquired a certain right of use to the teaching material. This applies only, however, if there is an agreement between the teacher and university that the extra fee is payment so that the university will be entitled to use the material. This must always be assessed in each individual case.
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.
The point of departure is that teachers, as originators, own the copyright to their teaching material. However, copyright can be partially or fully transferred to another party, for example the university. Creating presentations, compendiums etc. lies outside the teachers’ normal teaching duties and, if the university is to have any rights to use this material, an agreement between the teacher and the university is required. On the other hand normal teaching duties do include producing timetables, syllabuses, course information and examining students, and the department or equivalent of the university where the teacher works is entitled to use such material in their own operations.
No. Copyright applies irrespective of the technology used to store the material. Consequently it makes no difference whether the material is on paper or in digital form only – the same preconditions for protection apply. Today material in digital form can be found everywhere, for example on Internet, course websites etc.
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.
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.
Joint copyright means that copyright holders have rights to the material together. Note that copyright is shared, which means that one party cannot utilise the material unilaterally. A supervisor may not use material which is jointly copyrighted without the approval of the other copyright holders, e.g. doctoral candidates.
The new Act on Responsibility for Good Research Practice and the Examination of Research Misconduct, (SFS 2019:504), defines research misconduct as ’a serious breach of good scientific practice in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that is committed intentionally or with gross negligence in the planning, performance or reporting of research.’ Other deviations from good research practice are still to be tried by the higher education institution concerned in accordance with Chapter 1, Section 17 of the Higher Education Ordinance, see below.
Advice and support regarding good research practice
A higher education institution is to ensure that employees can receive advice and support in matters of good research practice and deviations from such practice. Ordinance (2019:1151).
How to deal with cases of suspected breaches of good research practice
A higher education institution is to try all suspected breaches of good research practice that are not covered by the Swedish Act on Responsibility for Good Research Practice and the Examination of Research Misconduct, (SFS 2019:504).
A higher education institution is to establish guidelines for examination of suspected deviations from good research practice. Ordinance (2019: 1151).
Creative Commons is a private, independent and co-financed organisation that claims to be non-profit and to strive for copyright owners to easily access a tool through their licenses that enables them to have a platform and to distribute and share their material without having to give up all the rights that copyright implies. There are four main types of CC licence, whereby the copyright owner allows the use of copyrighted material to varying degrees and for different purposes, depending on the license he or she chooses. If you are considering using a CC licence, you should first ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of the licence.