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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.

Agreement on transfer of rights of use for copyrighted materials

What to remember when entering into an agreement on transfer of rights of use for copyrighted materials/teaching material:

Some points concerning copyright

What does copyright mean?

Copyright is protection against copying (imitation) and against unauthorised publication and applies regardless of storage technology. Copyright consists of a financial element (right to reimbursement for copying and/or publication and the intangible right to being named as author and protection against changing/developing the material). The financial element may be transferred in whole or in part by the copyright owner but the intangible element may not be completely removed by contract.

University Teacher’s Copyright – the Teacher Copyright Exemption
The teacher copyright exemption is an unwritten rule of law based on a long tradition which has developed through custom and application. Consequently at Swedish universities, the copyright for teaching/educational materials (teaching materials, articles, lectures, exercises, compendiums etc.) belongs to the individuals who write them and work there as teachers and researchers. The teacher’s copyright exemption is based on the unique employment conditions at universities which are characterised by widespread freedom of work (academic freedom). In the education context this means that the teachers themselves are entitled to design their teaching and educational material while the institution merely determines the extent of the teaching obligation within the framework of current working hours agreements. The teacher also determines when, where and how the educational material is to be published.

In the case of material that has been added to the administrative part of the teacher’s position e.g. in the exercise of a head of department or a director of studies position, there is no copyright and the institution/university is entitled to use this material for their own operations. This material may include schedules, syllabuses, exercise examples, course information and exam questions and answers. The university has the right to use such materials according to the rule of thumb that allows such works to be used in normal university operations to the extent that could reasonably be foreseen at the time the material was established.

Requirements for teacher’s permission to use copyrighted material, e.g. teaching materials
According to the teacher’s copyright exception, the teacher’s permission is required for a university to use copyrighted material, for example teaching material. The requirement for permission also applies to changes in, and transfer of, this material as well as to the recording and digital dissemination of it.

Remember when transferring the rights of use of copyrighted material e.g. teaching material

Permission to use material does not require that any special form is filled in. A verbal agreement is binding on the parties. However, SULF strongly recommends that a written agreement be drawn up, as it is then easier to be absolutely sure what has been agreed and also to provide proof.

What should be included in a transfer of rights of use to e.g. teaching materials?

  • Information about who the parties to the agreement are.
  • Term of validity and conditions for termination of agreement.
  • The copyright material the contract encompasses.
  • How the university may use the teaching materials.
  • The payment to be made for the right of use.
  • The rights to the material the author retains.
  • Under which conditions the agreement may be cancelled by the author.