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Open science and use of images: Publications


       A good picture plan facilitates the publishing process

  • Clarifies the time and resources needed for picture editing
  • Illustrates image rights and provides the images’ sources
  • Facilitates further work if the publication is first published by a non-commercial publisher, for example in the university's own publication series, and later on by a commercial publisher
  • The picture plan can be made for example in an Excel table that shows the following items:
    • Creator
    • Place
    • Year
    • People in the picture and related observations
    • Purpose of the image: analysis / reference or illustration
    • Commercial publication or a publication of university, research institute or scientific society
    • Where the image was acquired and with which rights

Utilising material made by third party in publications

Appropriate copyright exceptions

Chapter 2 of the Copyright Act contains limitations of the author's financial rights. Since the author's control is based on the exclusivity of the law, the limitation provisions must be interpreted narrowly. From the principle of the binding nature of contracts follows that if the material is acquired for use under certain terms of the contract, these conditions must also be respected in the relationship between the parties to the contract even when a limitation provision would permit more extensive use of the material (HE 28/2004). Thus, if for example the terms for usage forbid citing images, the limitation provisions cannot be applied.

The general conditions for the application of the limitation provisions are laid down in Section 11 of the Copyright Act. Utilisation of the limitation provisions requires that the work to be quoted is made available to the public, that the source and the creator are mentioned in accordance with proper usage and that the exploiter has legally possessed a work or other material. The work has been made available to the public when it has been made public with the permission of the creator, for example, at an exhibition or on an open web page. The requirement of a legal source for example, means that a webpage from which you download the image is such that the image is there with the permission of rights holders. If the image was originally unlawfully loaded on a webpage, copying images is not permitted under the right to use the citations. If the researcher himself / herself has taken the picture he / she should, for the sake of clarity, provide his / her own name for example, photograph: Robert Researcher.

Image citation, Section 25 of the Copyright Act

The second paragraph of Section 25 of the Copyright Act refers to the quotation of images. According to the provision, images may be reproduced without permission and without compensation for a critical or a scientific presentation, provided that the images have a material connection to the text.

In addition to the conditions set forth in Section 25 of the Copyright Act, the use of the right requires the fulfilment of the general conditions of Section 11 of the Copyright Act; the agreement does not prohibit citing, the borrowed work must have been made public, the name and source must be mentioned, and the source must be legitimate. The work has been made public when it has been made public with the permission of the author, for example, presented at an exhibition or an open web page. The requirement of a legal source for example, means that a webpage from which you download the image is such that the image is there with the permission of the rights holders. If the image was initially unlawfully downloaded to the webpage, copying the images under the right to use the quotation is not permitted.

The image may be a photograph, a drawing, a photograph of an artwork, a picture of musical notation, a diagram or other explanatory drawing or another image. Section 22 of the Act primarily applies to the use of parts of a work, while Section 25 permits the use of the image in its entirety for non-commercial purposes.

The regulation concerning reproduction in an academic presentation is in line with the restriction in Article 5 (3a) in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to the directive, usage is permitted exclusively in teaching or illustrating academic research, provided the usage is justified, based on its non-commercial purpose. Also, the source and the name of the creator, if possible, should be mentioned.

According to Government Decree HE 287/1994, pages 28-29, the criteria for scientific presentation have become relatively broad in the practice of the Act. It has been considered that a presentation is scientific if the way of presenting the subject has been scientific. According to the Copyright Council case 1992: 4, for example, the publication of Valtatieverkoston 2010 kehittämissuunitelma, a publication by the Public Roads Administration, Impact Assessment 5 was a scientific presentation. The scientific value of the presentation can also be based on the systematisation, choices and way of presentation. Using the same criteria, a thesis is generally a scientific work, for example.

In the Copyright Council’s statement 1989:15, there is mention of an acceptable citation used in a film. In a film about a historical event, it was acceptable in accordance with the citation regulations to include scenes from a documentary describing that event. In addition, the statement stresses the fact that permitted film citations usually are short flashes from other films lasting a few seconds and that proper usage demands that names of the original work and its creator(s) are mentioned. It is not permissible to create a work composed of quotations only without the rights holder's permission.

Section 25 of the Copyright Act also requires non-commercial purposes for citation. For example, lectures at the university or open university or a higher education institution acting as a publisher have a non-commercial purpose but not a commercial publisher. It is useful to check the image permissions with a commercial publisher before publishing.

Citation, Section 22  of the Copyright Act

In addition to the previously mentioned general conditions (the contract does not prohibit citation, the cited work has to be public, the name and source must be mentioned, and the source must be legal), the conditions of Section 22 have to be fulfilled. In this case, the borrower does not have to ask the rights holder’s permission to use his / her work as part of the borrower's own work or to pay the rights holder compensation for the use of this work or part thereof. This regulation gives you the right to use copyright material in another context as part of a new work. The citation right applies to all types of work, that is to say, under Section 22, you can also quote pictures.

In addition to the general conditions, the citation must meet the requirements of proper usage to the extent necessary for the purpose. The most important meaning of proper usage is that it requires a material connection between borrowable and borrowed works. The requirement of a material connection concerns the relationship between the borrowed and the borrowing work, that is, the purpose for which quotation is permitted. For example, using a picture in a public status update for social media could not be considered proper usage. However, citing someone else’s photograph in a publication to illustrate the text, the quotation would, in principle, be proper usage. It is therefore essential for a material connection that the work to be quoted to illustrate, clarify or provide background to the borrower's own presentation Because of the absence of a referral function and material connection, it is not permissible to create a work composed of quotations only without the rights holder's permission (Harenko, Niirala and Tarkela, Tekijänoikeus, 2016, pp. 203-205).

The expression ‘to the extent necessary for the purpose’ is assessed on a case-by-case basis and means for example the length or purpose of the quote. The proper use of citation has been evaluated in the statement practise by the Copyright Council. In the statement by the Copyright Council 2016:16, six photographs and related captions were used in an article about a photographic exhibition and a photography book. In this case, images and caption texts could be cited under Sections 25 and 22 of the Copyright Act, as the images and texts contained a sufficient connection with the text of the article.

Other permission, such as permission from the rights holder

If you want to utilise a third party’s material in a more extensive way than the citation regulations allow, you can also ask permission from the copyright holder or he / she can authorise the use of the material through an agreement.

A Creative Commons licence allows the user to choose what user rights to give the work. The extent of the licence agreement and the usage it allows are expressed by the licence’s name and logo. These, in turn, are linked to the licence’s specific legal content and description of permitted usage. In this way it has been possible to define the usage permitted by the licence both in a way that is easy to understand and is accurate.


Linking is not specifically regulated by Finnish law and therefore it has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, for example under the Copyright Act. In the linking debate, maximum freedom of linking is almost always discussed with the argument that Internet activity and freedom of expression require linking. Thus, the possibility of linking without copyright hindrance has been welcomed in principle. However, the significance of the freedom of speech is very limited in cases where illegal material is linked. (Pihlajarinne, Taina: Lupa linkittää – toisen aineiston hyödyntämisen oikeudelliset rajat.2012. pp. 72-73 and 80). If protected material is imported to the site from outside using links in such a way that the material forms a paragraph of the linker’s site, a work has been created from the copyright perspective. Setting the frame link, the inline link, and the order link indicates that the linker will re-submit the material to the public (Pihlajarinne, Taina : Lupa linkittää – toisen aineiston hyödyntämisen oikeudelliset rajat.  2012 p. 113, 126). Generally, research has a lot of links, mainly in the source list. They are unproblematic in a copyright sense if the site to which they are linked is legitimate.