Diversity in copyright


Copyright legislation is created at an individual country level as there is not an international copyright law, though many countries have signed up to the Berne Convention (WIPO, 1979). For these reasons, it is important that researchers identify the relevant national copyright legislation.

The European Commission is looking to reform EU copyright law further, having published a package of reform proposals, which currently include a Directive and a Regulation. One of the aims of these reforms is to improve copyright rules on research and education. Click a country to find out about national copyright legislation, what is covered, the copyright duration and the exceptions and limitations.

National legislation

Copyright Act No. 121/2000; 07/2017 (2000) (in Czech).
In English, version 01/2015: Consolidated text of Act No. 121/2000 on Copyright and Rights Related to Copyright and on Amendment to Certain Acts (the Copyright Act (Ministry of Culture Czech Republic (2000); pdf, downloads on click)).


Copyright duration varies based on the type of work. Unless stipulated otherwise, economic rights shall run for the life of the author and 70 years after his death but this is 50 years for Performer’s Economic Rights, phonogram, broadcasters, and publishers. The right sui generis of the maker of the database shall run for 15 years from the making of the database.

  • Vol.I., Art.2: (1)"...shall be a literary work or any other work of art or a scientific work, which is a unique outcome of the creative activity of the author and is expressed in any objectively perceivable manner including electronic form, permanent or temporary, irrespective of its scope, purpose or significance.. A work shall be, without limitation, a literary work expressed by speech or in writing, a musical work, a dramatic work or musical-dramatical work, a choreographic work and pantomimic work , a photographic work and a work produced by a process similar to photography, an audiovisual work such as a cinematographic work, a work of fine arts such as a painting, graphic or sculptural work, an work of architecture including an urban design work, a work of applied art, and a cartographic work.
  • A computer program shall also be considered a work if it is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation. A database which by the way of the selection or arrangement of its content is the author’s own intellectual creation, and in which the individual parts are arranged in a systematic or methodical way and are individually accessible by electronic or other means, is a collection of works. No other criteria shall be applied to determine their eligibility for that protection. A photograph or a work produced by a process similar to photography, which are original in the sense of the first sentence, shall be protected as a photographic work.
  • A work which is the outcome of the creative adaptation of another work, including its translation into another language, shall also be subject to copyright. This shall be without prejudice to the rights of the author of the adapted or translated work.
  • A collection like a journal, encyclopaedia, anthology, exhibition, or any other collection of independent works or other elements that by reason of their selection and of the arrangement of the content meet the conditions set out in Paragraph 1 above, is a collection of works.
  • The items that are not works hereunder, shall include, but are not limited to the theme (subject) of a work as such, the news of the day and any other fact as such, an idea, procedure, principle, method, discovery, scientific theory, mathematical and similar formula, statistical diagram and similar item as such".

No copyright, Art. 3: a) an official work, such as a legal regulation, decision, public charter, publicly accessible register and collection of its documents, and also any official draft of an official work and other preparatory official documentation including the official translation of such work, Chamber of Deputies and Senate publications, a memorial chronicle of a municipality (municipal chronicles), a state symbol and symbol of a municipality, and any other such works where there is public interest in their exclusion from copyright protection, b) creations of traditional folk culture, unless the real name of the author is commonly known and the works are anonymous or pseudonymous (Article 7); such works may only be used in a way that shall not detract from their value.

National legislation
Copyright Act (404/1961, amendments up to 608/2015) (2015).

Copyright shall subsist until 70 years have elapsed from the year of the author's death or from the year of death of the last surviving author.

A person who has created a literary or artistic work shall have copyright therein, whether it be a fictional or descriptive representation in writing or speech, a musical or dramatic work, a cinematographic work, a photographic work or other work of fine art, a product of architecture, artistic handicraft, industrial art, or expressed in some other manner. Maps and other descriptive drawings or graphically or three-dimensionally executed works and computer programs shall also be considered literary works.

There shall be no copyright: 1) in laws and decrees; 2) in resolutions, stipulations and other documents which are published under the Act on the Statutes of Finland (188/2000) and the Act on the Regulations of Ministries and other Government Authorities (189/2000); 3) treaties, conventions and other corresponding documents containing international obligations; 4) decisions and statements issued by public authorities or other public bodies; 5) translations of documents referred to in paragraphs 1−4 made by or commissioned by public authorities or other public bodies.

The provisions of subsection 1 shall not apply to independent works contained in the documents referred to in the subsection.

National legislation

Act on copyright and related rights (2016).

Copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death.

Protected Works
Protected works in the literary, scientific and artistic domain include, in particular:

1. Literary works, such as written works, speeches, and computer programs;
2. Musical works;
3. Pantomimic works, including works of dance;
4. Artistic works, including works of architecture and of applied art and drafts of such works;
5. Photographic works, including works produced by processes similar to photography;
6. Cinematographic works, including works produced by processes similar to cinematography;
7. Illustrations of a scientific or technical nature, such as drawings, plans, maps, sketches, tables and three-dimensional representations.

Only the author’s own intellectual creations constitute works within the meaning of this Act.

Collections and database works
1. Collections of works, data or other independent elements which by reason of the selection or arrangement of the elements constitute the author’s own intellectual creation (collections) are protected as independent works without prejudice to an existing copyright or related right in one of the individual elements;
2. A database work within the meaning of this Act is a collection whose elements are arranged systematically or methodically and the individual elements are individually accessible by electronic or other means. A computer program (section 69a) used in the creation of the database work or to provide access to its elements does not constitute an integral part of the database work.

Official works
1. Acts, statutory instruments, official decrees and official notices, as well as decisions and official head notes of decisions, do not enjoy copyright protection;
2. The same applies to other official texts published in the official interest for general information purposes, subject to the proviso that the provisions concerning the prohibition of alteration and the indication of sources in section 62 (1) to (3) and section 63 (1) and (2) shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Authors in employment or service
The provisions of this subchapter shall also apply where the author has created the work in the fulfilment of obligations resulting from an employment or service relationship unless otherwise provided in accordance with the terms or nature of the employment or service relationship.

The German 'Gesetz über Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutzrechte (UrhG)' makes several exceptions when works are used in the context of research or teaching.

National legislation
Auteurswet (2017) (in Dutch).

Copyright is in force until 70 years after the death of the author.

The Copyright Act provides protection for works that display a certain creativity or originality.

Bare facts as such, citations and works produced by the official authorities do not fall under The Copyright act.

National legislation
The Norway Copyright Act (Act No. 2 of May 12, 1961) (in Norwegian) relating to Copyright in Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works (consolidated version of 2015). (Lov om opphavsrett til åndsverk, 2015). The original law is only available in Norwegian, but the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) provides information on the Norwegian Copyright Act in English.

Copyright is in force until 70 years after the death of the author.
Database rights are in force for 15 years after the year of production or after the year of the last update.

Research data are rarely protected by copyright, but more often it may be protected by database rights.

A simple rule of thumb is that Copyright protects original works of authorship (scientific articles, books, reports, blogs) but not facts, raw data, etc. unless they are selected and arranged in an original way (cf. Lov om opphavsrett til åndsverk/1961-05-12-2/§1). One might think, for example, that the selection of variables or other data is unique or creative, but if your selection is motivated by rational questions or objective considerations, it is not “creative” in a copyright sense.

The Norwegian Copyright Act covers Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights), Enforcement of IP and Related Laws, IP Regulatory Body and Industrial Designs.

The Copyright owner is the author or person to whom rights have been transferred (e.g. the publisher); cf. Lov om opphavsrett til åndsverk/1961-05-12-2/§7.

According to §43 in Norwegian law, Database right protects databases that are the result of a substantial investment in either the obtaining, verification or presentation of its contents. This means that the investment in the creation of the contents does not give you database rights.

The database right belongs to the maker of the database, i.e. the person (natural or legal) who bears the risk of the investment. Thus, if a database is created in the course of employment, the right will belong to the employer, and not the employee(s). See Lov om opphavsrett til åndsverk/1961-05-12-2/§43.

§ 9 of the Norwegian Copyright Act states that laws, regulations, court decisions and other decisions by public authorities are not Copyright protected. The same applies to proposals, investigations and other statements relating to public authority exercise and has been issued by the public authority, publicly appointed council or selection or published by the public.

§ 1-4 of the Norwegian Copyright Act is an exception which allows the production of a copy for research purposes. This provision is relatively new and allows research institutions to apply to the Norwegian Ministry of Culture for the permission to produce copies for research purposes, for example, to cover special needs in language research. The condition is that the production of copies shall not lead to a proliferation in violation of the rights holder's interests and the copy of the product must otherwise conflict with the rights owner's own exploitation of the work.

National legislation

The Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (1960:729).

Copyright in a work shall subsist until the end of the seventieth year after the year in which the author deceased. If a work has two or more authors, whose contributions do not constitute independent works, the copyright shall belong to the authors jointly. In that case, copyright subsists until after the year in which the last surviving author deceased.

Anyone who has created a literary or artistic work shall have copyright in that work, regardless of whether it is:

  • A fictional or descriptive representation in writing or speech;
  • A computer program;
  • A musical or dramatic work;
  • A cinematographic work;
  • A photographic work or another work of fine arts;
  • A work of architecture or applied art;
  • A work expressed in some other manner.

Maps and other works of a descriptive nature executed as drawings, engravings, or in a three-dimensional form, shall be considered as literary works. What is prescribed in this Act concerning computer programs shall mutatis mutandis apply also to preparatory design material for computer programs. (Act 1994:190)

Copyright does not subsist in:

  • Laws and other regulations;
  • Decisions by public authorities;
  • Reports by Swedish public authorities;
  • Official translations of texts mentioned under 1–3.

However, copyright subsists in works of the following kinds when they form part of the following documents: maps, works of drawing, painting or engraving, musical works or works of poetry. (Act 2000:92).

National legislation

Swiss Federal Act on Copyright and Related Rights (1992). The DICE project (Université de Genève, 2010) provides a useful handbook on copyright in education in Switzerland.

National legislation

The Copyright, Design and Patents Act dates from 1988.


Copyright duration varies based on the type of work. For literary and artistic works it is 70 years from the end of the year of the death of creator, for sound recordings it is 50 years from date of creation and for typographical arrangements, it is 25 years from date of publication. For Crown Copyright the duration can be 50 years from the date of publication or 125 years from the date of creation.

Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes or the typographical arrangement of publications.

The UK has created various exceptions including ‘fair dealing’ and ‘non-commercial research and private study’.

Obstacles to the trans-European archiving and sharing of research data


Making research data as openly available as possible is a widely recognised goal. For researchers working on an interdisciplinary project involving several countries, it can be difficult to fully comprehend in which ways open access to research data can be legally obtained. European national laws still diverge.

A report from Knowledge Exchange (Knowledege Exchange, 2011) concludes that it will remain difficult to predict when particular files of research data are protected because of:

  • Diversity in copyright protection
    Even though most research data will fail to meet the criteria for copyright protection because they are not likely to be considered as “works” (they mainly concern facts), the lack of harmonisation of the criteria for copyright protection in Europe is tricky. E.g., whereas Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands have a relatively similar (higher) originality standard, the UK has a very low standard (skill, judgment, and labour) making it possible that collections of research data are easily granted full copyright protection.
  • Diversity in copyright owner
    If protection applies, the right holder's consent is required for sharing the data. However, the designation of the copyright owner is also different in different jurisdictions. Although in many cases the maker of the work will be considered to be the author and therefore the right holder, only Dutch and UK law designate the employer as the right holder if the work was made in the course of employment.

Licences as a way forward

Therefore, the authors conclude that to ensure that research data can be shared and reused freely licences should always be obtained from the potential rights holders. With the right licence, researchers can waive claims to any IP rights that might apply to research data that they generate in the course of publicly funded research. In the chapter 'Archiving and publishing data' we will look into 'Data licensing'.