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Copyright Guide: University studies, research and teaching

University studies, research and teaching

The freedom of science, art, and higher education is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. Also the Universities Act recognizes the freedom of Science, Art, and education as well as the public operation of a university. The principle of freedom of science helps ensure the development and high quality of science. Freedom of science is based on the provisions of the Universities Act and the conventions relating to the implementation of the Act. According to the principle of freedom of science, everyone has the right to select the subject they want to research and the method they want to apply, and to freely exploit the research results. However, in the course of their studies, students are bound to use the copyrighted works of others. It is important to ensure that permission has been obtained from the copyright holder, or that the work can be used according to the Copyright Act or another law. Restrictions are examined in the section "Using Works in University Studies, Research and Teaching".

The impact of the freedom of science is reflected the strongest in the basic function of the university: safeguarding the freedom of science is seen as a responsibility of both the government and the university. The freedom of science also represents the foundation of a university's complementary functions. In this case, however, the point of view held by external interests must be taken into consideration. The complementary functions are influenced by commitments regarding various cooperative relationships, such as agreeing on copyright. But also concerning the complementary functions, for example the right to publish research results must be protected by agreements.

Open availability of research results, publications and data is an essential part of the freedom of science and a prerequisite to research and education. This is stated also in the Universities Act, which describes the mission of universities as:

"The mission of the Universities is to promote free research and academic and artistic education, to provide higher education based on research, and to educate students to serve their country and humanity. In carrying out their mission, the Universities must promote lifelong learning, interact with the surrounding society and promote the impact of research findings and artistic activities on society (Universities Act 2 §)".

Copyright is protected as a human right in the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights under article 27, stating "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits" and "Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author." A person may only wave their copyright with an agreement. However, a person who has created a work of art will always have a copyright credited to him/her at the moment of the creation of the work.



One could justify the researcher and teacher's right to self determination based on the freedom of science and the values behind copyright, which are, at their broadest, in connection with a university's basic function and the independent research of the researcher and teacher. In this case, a high degree of self-determination is a pre-requisite of a university's statutory duties, with the freedom of science strongly influential as a background principle. In independent, i.e. open, research, the researcher and teacher determine the use of their studies and publications and can license them, that is, they grant limited rights of use with terms that they find fair.

Articles in publications and PhD-thesis

In open research, the researcher owns the copyright to his / her scientific article and signs the copyright agreement with the publisher of a scientific publication. If this article is to be used as a part of a PhD-thesis later, a letter like the one below has been used to obtain permission from the original publisher, in case the publishing agreement has transferred the rights to the publisher.


Dear xxxe,

In Finland, a PhD-thesis most often consists of an overview (about 30-50 pages long) and several articles published in scientific journals (at the U University usually six articles).

In my PhD-thesis, the article published by P is:


I am cordially requesting your permission to include the article (above) in the printed version (about xx prints) of my thesis and also exhibit them on the internet as PDF-files on the www-page of our university library (www.xxxx.uu) and store them on the university server as part of my electronic thesis. I want to emphasize that the U University dissertation series does not have commercial purposes.

Please find below my contact information. I am looking forward to your favourable reply which would enable me to comply with my university’s requirements for receiving a PhD.

Yours sincerely


Contact information:

X University Finland

Co-operative projects

In addition to their basic function, universities are involved in co-operative projects, where financing has been arranged externally. The breadth of co-operation projects may vary from a one company cooperation project to multinational cooperation projects, which include comprehensive contractual obligations. Co-operation agreements commit the university  to assign the copyright to a third party. The physical work of researchers, without its associated copyright and other intellectual property rights, can be worthless. The transition of the results of a research project to the parties or to organizations outside of the project will be agreed upon in a contract. In order to fulfill its contractual obligations towards the financier, the university must obtain the rights defined in the co-operation agreement from individual researchers and project workers.

Rights of the University

Rights under the Copyright Act may, in certain situations arise directly to the university (university as a legal entity). The university may receive the protection of phonogram producers under § 46, movie producers under § 46a, or list and database producers under § 49, of the Copyright Act. In this case, the university can exploit these rights in the manner described in the Copyright Act. However, the university can never be the author  under § 1 of the Copyright Act, i.e. the author can only be a natural person.

Rights may be transferred to the university for material produced by researchers and teachers via express or silent agreement. The practice may vary from university to university. 

When the teaching material created by a teacher is illustrated with any text, sound, pictures or other copyrighted material created by a third party, the use of such material must either be limited to the extent permissible under copyright exceptions and limitations or covered by an agreement.
If you want to make a link to an article or other publication, please use the permanent links provided by the university library e-resources or make a link to open access articles (for example Below you can find more information about linking to library e-resources. When you use e-resources purchased by the library, remember to follow the library guidelines.
If you can’t find the article you need in library e-resources, you can make an acquisition request. Consider whether the course budget could cover the article (supplementary material) costs. Remember to use the bought material in accordance with the terms of use. Single articles can be bought at publisher websites or at the Copyright Clearance Center
You can also use third-party materials under the Kopiosto copying licence, which the university has acquired. The licence is restricted and doesn’t allow for example material sharing or distribution openly on the Internet. Please read more about licence conditions of use:
Use of third-party material 
Since digital material may be produced by several people or bodies, it is best to agree on the ownership and access rights in writing. For copyright purposes, saving and distributing material via an information network is always considered equivalent to reproducing the work and making it available to the public. Also using material in a virtual learning environment constitutes making it available to the public.
Publishing material in a closed network environment, such as the university intranet, does not constitute private use referred to in the Copyright Act. In consequence, putting copyrighted material on a network requires either an applicable copyright exception or limitation or obtaining permission from the rightholder. The rightholder may authorise the use of his/her material by means of, e.g. a licence agreement.
The extent of a Creative Commons licence and the uses permissible under it are easily understood from the licence name and the associated logo, which, in turn, are linked to the detailed legal code of the licence and an explanation of the rights granted under it. The rights granted under a given licence have been defined intelligibly but precisely.  For additional information on Creative Commons licences, see .
Electronic resources of university libraries
University libraries have a wide base of electronic resources, such as scientific articles, which teachers and students may use in accordance with the terms of use for electronic resources. The terms of use and license agreements are always prior to copyright provisions. 
Teachers considering a given article as course material must first find out whether the article is already available as an e-resource at the university and if yes, use the e-resource as instructed by the libraries.  The university has concluded agreements with publishers of scientific journals and agreements on the use of journals, and it may have access to e-books and journals from various suppliers. When such resources are included in the digital teaching material, a link to the e-resource of the library can often be provided in the course pages, according to e-resource licence agreements. Providing links to the e-resources of the library in the teaching material ensures compliance with the terms of use and allows the library to compile statistics on the usage rate of a given resource and evaluate its usefulness. Please see the guide Linking to licensed e-resources.
Most of the materials have been acquired via FinELib consortium, and thorough conditions of use for them have been compiled here (you can find e-resources in alphabetical order. Click the resource name and scroll the page down for information in English.) 
You can use a URL shortening service to facilitate linking to an article. Creating such a link requires a permanent URL, because simply searching the article in a database and copying the address as a link will produce a link that will only work for a few hours. The permanent URL is usually given in connection with the abstract of the article, and has different names such as persistent link to this record (Ebsco), Document URL (ProQuest), and also Open URL and DOI links are used.
Using an entire article as part of digital teaching material may be allowed under a Creative Commons licence or some other licence compliant with the principle of open access. Teachers may also obtain permission to use the article directly from the publisher or the author of the article where the author is also the rightholder. If you can’t find the teaching material in university library e-resources, you can scan the material under Kopiosto licence. But remember, if you for example find an article in library e-resources, link it in your teaching material, don’t scan it.
Digital use of works from open websites at universities and polytechnics under the Digital Licence of Kopiosto
Creators and publishers have widely authorised Kopiosto to act on their behalf and grant permissions to digitally copy and use works in education and research. Section 26 of the Copyright Act extends the Kopiosto licences to apply also to those creators and publishers that are not directly represented by Kopiosto by virtue of authorisation.
Court of Justice of the European Union has made a judgement C-301/15 Soulier & Doke on 16th November 2016, stating that it’s against EU directives to make an agreement about using works without informing the author about the intention to licence his/her works under a contractual licence, without a letter of attorney. This means Kopiosto has an information obligation towards authors, being more extensive than before.
The Court judgement underlines the importance of reporting to Kopiosto the material used by Kopiosto licence. Thus Kopiosto and the university acquiring the licence can be informed about the authors and rightholders of used works having given Kopiosto a letter of attorney or being aware of their works being copied under Kopiosto contractual licence.
At the moment, Kopiosto does not require universities or polytechnics to stamp their scanned materials or report on the used online resources, but it is recommended to do so to obtain legal security on granted licences.
Reporting is recommended because it allows Kopiosto to allocate remuneration for the digital use of materials to the copyright holders. It is estimated that 73-90 % of copying in universities is from open Internet pages. 46 % of copying is comprised of individual photographs and pictures. 
Pursuant to section 14 of the Copyright Act, creators and publishers have the opportunity to prohibit the digital copying and use of their works. Kopiosto maintains a list of those copyright owners and prohibited works that are reported to it. As regards publications, copying prohibitions can also be listed in the publications or web pages. University staff must adhere to these copying prohibitions. If non-commercial use for teaching purposes is prohibited, too, the use is possible only after getting a permission from the copyright owner. Kopiosto can’t licence such works.
Furthermore, the Digital Licence does not apply to usage situations where the licence owner directly licences the use of his/her works or the licence holder is entitled to use the work in question by virtue of some other agreement or licence. When the publisher has a licence agreement with the university, the university complies with the terms of the licence agreement (for example Harvard Business Review). 
A few copies of works can be made for private use within the family; other copying of works is subject to a licence.
Please note that use of materials allowed by a Creative Commons licence or other licence is not stamped or reported in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Digital Licence of Kopiosto.
Linking to third-party materials
When linking to third-party materials, please remember the following:
Informative linking, i.e. telling that the material can be found on a web page where the link indicates, is always allowed. In teaching material, a teacher can always use links which allow the students to open third-party material producer’s (for example publisher’s of an article) web pages, understanging (s)he is opening the original material producer’s web pages. 
If a student doesn’t realize (s)he is opening the third-party material producer’s home page, this is called disloyal linking. It can aim at, for example, getting the advertising revenue to the linking web page. Most likely this relates to commercial activity only.
Citation provision and teaching material
Digital teaching materials can also contain third-party materials free of charge and without a consent from the rightholders, under limitations on the Copyright Act. It is allowed in accordance with proper usage to the extent necessary for the purpose (Copyright Act § 22) and when works of art are reproduced in pictorial form in material connection with the text in a critical or scientific presentation (Copyright Act § 25).
According to the provision on citation, citations of others works may be included in learning material e.g. for illustrative purposes. The source of the quotation must be mentioned. A problem arises, however, in estimating the permissibility of the citation, which must be assessed for each individual case. Citing is allowed to the extent required by the purpose, which varies with the type of work and discipline. According to the Copyright Act 22 §, all types of work can be cited.
Pleasee see the ImagOA guide to learn about citing pictures or media materials.
Agreeing on the right of use
The pronouncement 1998:20 by the Copyright Council demonstrates questions about the copyright holder in cooperation projects between several universities. The pronouncement dealt with the copyrights born for the digital teaching material in the Psykonet online University formed jointly by the Psychology Departments of the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Jyväskylä and Joensuu. The Council was asked, among other things, whether the copyrights born in the project can be assigned to the cooperation project and what happens to these rights after the end of the project. According to the pronouncement by the Copyright Council, copyright is always born to a natural person, or to persons, who with their creative input have participated to the creation of the material in question. Copyright can be transferred to a legal person, such as a company or a university.  The transfer is not subject to a specified form.  Employment, a permanent post or a contractor relationship may, even without express contractual terms, cover the transfer of copyright - or the right of use - to some extent. According to the Council, the inter-university cooperative project Psykonet is, however, not such a civil legal person who is capable of the management of intellectual property rights and serves as the recipient of such transferred rights. Therefore, the natural persons (authors) of the cooperative project, who with their creative input participated in the creation of the material, are generally seen as the copyright holders for the teaching materials in such cooperative projects. The extent, to which the rights are seen to have transferred to singular universities, is agreed upon between the parties.  Transfer of the rights and the extent of the transfer is ultimately a question of evidence, where the burden of proof is with those who claim the transfer has taken place. Copyright is born to the author of the work, even when the work is created in employment, a permanent post or contractor relationship. The transfer of copyright from author to the employer or client can be agreed upon.  The employment, permanent post or contractor relationship may, even without express agreement terms, cover the transfer of copyright to some extent.
Copyright of learning materials
From the university perspective, ownership and particularly the right of use for all learning material produced in its sphere, can also cause interpretation problems. If the duties of a teacher don’t include producing learning materials, the copyright of learning materials belongs to the teacher working under employment contract or service, unless otherwise agreed. If the duties include producing learning materials, the employer obtains rights for the use of the work to the extent required by their normal operations. Determining this is not often very easy. Therefore, it is always advisable to make an explicit agreement between worker and employer.   

During university studies, students familiarize themselves with the works of previous generations of scholars and participate in the creation of new works. Protected works include, among others, course works and thesis and can include for example computer programs, scripts, audiovisual works, photography and other works of visual art, architecture and design. In addition, works that take a completely new form may be protected by copyright.

Copyright of works produced by students

Copyright is a born to the author who created the work. If this person is a student, the copyright is born to the student. University is a community that creates and distributes works, and members of the community use copyrighted works, such as lectures and thesis.  Agreements between the university and the student may vary depending on the university in question.  If there aren’t other instructions, the right of ownership to the work as a physical object is created to the university, if the exercise is made from the university's materials, such as art supplies. Students usually have the opportunity to buy their works made from the university's materials by compensating the university 
Right to use students’ works

To fulfill the legal duties, the universities' everyday activities require that they have the right to use a student's exercises and diploma works. To ensure this, a student enrolling to a university usually signs an agreement with the university relating to the use of exercise and diploma works. With this agreement, the student gives the university the limited right to use their exercises and diploma works for normal non-commercial activities. This usually refers to teaching, research, public relations and library activities. This relates only to the right to use, and the copyright to any exercise and diploma works remains with the student. The students have also the right to be acknowledged as authors in accordance with the principle of proper usage.

External Funding

The owner of works produced in various projects that are realized with external funding is either the financier of the project or the university, depending on the agreement. Usually the external financier requires that any copyrights and other incorporeal rights are transferred to the university with the right of further transfer. In practice, this means that students must fully transfer their copyrights to works created during the project. The transfer of copyright is usually implemented with an agreement relating to the project. The right of further transfer makes it possible to exploit the results of the projects outside the university.

Competition Rules as Copyright Agreement

Students participate in several competitions. The rules of these competitions function as an agreement concerning the copyright of participants. When a student participates in a competition, (s)he accepts the rules of the competition, and transfer his/her copyright as the terms and conditions of the competition specify. The organization behind the competition can only receive copyright as extensive as specified in the rules of the competition.

Thesis and course work

During their studies, students in creative disciplines create exercises and diploma works as part of the curriculum, which are closely linked with their future profession. Such works have been protected by copyright on the same grounds as any other works in creative industries. In other words, the work must display the author's independent and original creative input.

Citation in thesis

Citation has its roots in the Latin word for 'cito', meaning appealing to something. It can be used to illustrate issues and to justify one's own opinions in a consistent manner.

According to 22 § of the Copyright Act, it is permissible to use citation from disseminated works to the extent required by the specific purpose. A work is considered disseminated when it has been made available to the public with the copyright holder’s permission. A separate permission from the copyright holder is not required. The manner, in which the work is made public, is not significant. When citing, the author's name and the source must be stated in accordance with fair practice. In practice, the manner of citing sources varies from field to field. Be consistent and remember to reference all the sources in an appropriate manner.

The maximum or minimum length of quotation has not been precisely defined. In principle, it is possible to violate the copyright holder's exclusive rights with both too long and too short quotations. In most cases, however, the problem is a quotation that is too long. A work can never consist of quotations alone - in this case permission is required from the copyright holders of all the quoted works. Similarly, it is not permissible to quote an entire work. The extent of permissible quotation may vary depending on the discipline and the work in question. As far as audiovisual works are concerned, the Copyright Council has allowed only very short quotation.

Writers of articles published in scientific journals may need to use  long citations in critiquing and commenting other authors' works and in justifying their own opinions. Ultimately, the extent of permissible citation is determined by the purpose, aims and context of its use.

The fair practice of citation has been considered to require using the citation to aid intellectual creative work. Thus, citations must be appropriately connected to the work of the citing party. In addition, there must be a justifiable reason for using a citation in the context it is presented in. Acceptable use of citations includes, among other things, providing support for your own thoughts and views and citing for illustrative purposes.

Images in a thesis

Please see the ImagOA guide.

Joint and Collective Works

A work is a joint work if it is created by a group or otherwise by more than one person so that the authors' contributions are inseparable. In that case the work can only be exploited after obtaining permission from all the authors. For example, the Copyright Council's opinion 1988:2 discussed a video that a group of university students had created as their diploma work. The Council considered that the work was protected by the Copyright Act and that the students jointly held copyright to the work. The university was not considered the producer of the work only on the basis that it had provided the funding.

A work is a collective work if it is created by more than one person and the authors' contributions can be separated. In that case the author of each part separately controls the exploitation of that part. When exploiting the entire work, a permission must be obtained from all the authors.

         TV'oke is a master's thesis made as group work                                      The theses of Viara Gentchev and Tuomas Karhu
         Graphics: Viara Gentchev and Tuomas Karhu                                          Photo: Anna Keune

Rights of Teachers and Supervisors

As a rule, teachers or supervisors are not granted copyright to works by students. A student makes the decisions which form the work, and the work is a product of the student’s creative contribution. Often the teacher's or supervisor's contribution is only pedagogical or advisory, and the copyright is created to the student only. According to the Copyright Council's opinion TN 2003:9, copyright can be created to a supervisor with independent and creative contribution that is visible in the finished product.

With respect to copyright, a thesis becomes disseminated when it is submitted for review. This means that the Copyright Act's restrictive provisions relating to disseminated works – such as the provisions on quotations and private use – apply to the work.

A diploma work that is submitted for review becomes public also in the meaning of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. According to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, any document submitted to the authorities becomes public and everyone has the right of access to it. The objective and appropriate appraisal of diploma works also requires that they are public. Therefore, business secrets and descriptions of patentable inventions should never be included in a diploma work. On the other hand, they can be included in the diploma work's reference material that is not subject to evaluation, and thus, will not be public.



Open access can be defined as the practice of providing free of charge on-line access to scholarly and scientific publications. 

Open access to university learning materials, scholarly articles and research data is a global trend and common objective. Finnish universities have accepted the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Many research funders require open access publishing of research outputs and recommend publishing the research data as open as possible (see Sherpa Juliet for more information).

Aalto University requires that researchers make their peer reviewed  scientific publications openly available, in the form permitted by publishers, and according to agreements on research projects and scientific publications. (See more at You can find information about publishers’ copyright policies and self-archiving at Aalto University has the open access repository ACRIS for self-archiving.
Publishers provide a gold open access model, which means the author usually chooses a Creative Commons licence for the article. When choosing a licence, the author also defines how (s)he can reuse the article. Read for example 

The Ministry of Education and Culture aims at making Finland the leading country in open science and research. The Ministry initiated Open Science and Research project (2014-2017) to promote open science and open access to research publications. The aim is also to promote the reliability and responsibility of science and research, and to support the endorsement of open research practices in the research community and to increase the social impact of research and science. See more at
Creative Commons licences, especially CC-BY 4.0., are tools to execute open research data and open learning materials. Read more at The new CC 4.0-licences have been translated into Finnish by the Copyright Service for Arts Universities. The translation was carried out in the Copyright Service for Arts Universities project funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The translation was made by lawyer and partner Martin von Willebrand, lawyer Henri Tanskanen and authorized translator, M.Sc (Econ) Liisa Laakso-Tammisto from translation agency IDE Oy. The translation project was lead by Arts Universities copyright lawyer Maria Rehbinder, and the cooperation with Creative Commons organization was coordinated by Tarmo Toikkanen, a researcher in Aalto University.


​University students and teachers exploit each others' copyrighted works. In that case it must be made certain there is a consent from the copyright holder or the use is allowed under the provisions of the Copyright Act or extinction of right. Copyright and related rights are effective only for a prescribed time, after which the works can be used without a consent from the copyright holder.

Copyright is not an absolute right; certain limitations have been made to the Author's exclusivity in Chapter 2 of the Copyright Act. Behind the restrictions are social, cultural, and privacy protection interests. The following section examines the restrictions that serve the needs of studies, research, and teaching.


Citation has its roots in the Latin word for 'cito', meaning appealing to something. It can be used to illustrate issues and to justify one's own opinions in a consistent manner.

According to § 22 of the Copyright Act, it is permissible to use citation from disseminated works to the extent required by the specific purpose and in accordance with fair practice. A separate permission from the author is not necessary. A work is considered disseminated when it has been made available to the public with the author's permission. The manner, in which the work is made public, is not significant.

When quoting, the author's name and the source must be stated to the extent and in the manner required by fair practice. In practice, the manner of citing sources varies from field to field. If the author and the source have not been mentioned when they should have been, according to fair practice, quoting is considered illegal and it’s violating copyright. It is also against the guidelines of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK) to use text or other material, without appropriate reference to the original author and source. The violation of the guidelines will be considered according to Responsible Conduct of Research guidelines

The maximum or minimum length of citation has not been precisely defined. In principle, it is possible to violate the copyright holder's exclusive rights with both, too long and too short quotations. In most cases, however, the problem is a citation that is too long. A work can never consist of citations alone; in this case permission would be required from the authors of all the copyrighted works. Similarly, it is not permissible to cite an entire work.  The citation must always have a relevant connection to the work of the person citing, i.e. facilitate that person in their own creative work. The extent of permissible quotation may vary depending on the discipline in question. For Example The Copyright Council has accepted what comes to audiovisual works solely very short glimpses, of a few seconds, from a film. In The Copyright Council’s case 2002:16 that concerned quoting material from one 3 minutes long documentary videofilm for educational purposes could not be seen as a quotational use of footage and thus permissible or in accordance with the provision on the right to quote but required the author's or the copyright holder's permission.

Writers of articles published in  scientific journals may need  long citations in critiquing and commenting other authors' works and in justifying their own opinions. Ultimately, the extent of permissible citation is determined by the purpose, aims and context of its use.

On the basis of the restriction on citation (Section 25 of the Copyright Act), an image such as an illustration, a photograph or a photograph of an artwork may be used in connection with a scientific presentation. These images can be, and should be used as a whole work of art or as a whole photograph. The text of the presentation must be the main subject matter of critical or scientific article. Images must be related to the text; they must illustrate and clarify the text. Scientific presentations, for example theses, dissertation and course papers, are regarded as presentations that meet the general requirements for the scientific treatment of subject matter. Theses, dissertation and course papers may be distributed and shared in their entirety together with images on the Internet. However, it should be noted that if an agreement has been made on the use of an image, the nature and extent of such rights are defined by that agreement. For example if a student has been given a permission in an agreement to use an image from an archive solely in an analogue publication, the student is obliged to act accordingly. Therefore, it is advisable to reach an agreement that allows the use of copyright work in the digital university repository.

The right of attribution requires that the name of the author is mentioned in accordance with good practice. It is necessary to mention all the authors of the cited work. For example a photograph made of a work of design requires that both the name of the author of the work of design and the photographer are mentioned. In the case the photographer rests unknown it is recommended to mention the author in a following manner: Photographer unknown, source Archive x. However, different archives may have various prerequisites for mentioning it as a source. One should note that citing a copyrighted work does not give the status of a copyright owner neither to the student nor to the university, citing merely gives a limited right to use.

Free adaptation

As a rule, the Copyright Act provides the author with the exclusive right to dispose of the work in either the original or an altered form. This means that the author of an adaptation must first obtain permission from the copyright holder of the original work. For example, translating a novel requires obtaining permission from the original work's author.

According to the Copyright Act, permission from the copyright holder is not required if the person has drawn freely on a work to create a new and independent work. This provision is based on the separation of an idea and its expression. Copyright does not protect ideas or principles, but only their independent and original expressions. As a consequence, an idea or theme can be realized in an independent and creative manner without infringing on the copyright of the author of the original work. Whether or not an adaptation is independent and creative is ultimately decided on the basis of a case-to-case assessment of similarities. According to legal literature, the assessment of similarities is based on the evaluation of similitude between the works' essential parts. The decisive factor is whether the works are similar to the extent that they evoke a feeling of likeness.

Supreme Court decision KKO 1979 II 64 discussed the similitude of a photograph and a painting based on the photograph. An art student had created a painting from a photograph taken by N.N. and exhibited it to the public with the intent to sell it. Comparing the works, the Supreme Court considered it evident that the painting could not have been created independent of the photograph. The posture and clothing of the children on the painting and on the photograph and the background displayed substantial similarities. On the other hand, the Supreme Court took notice of the works' differences. Minor differences that were due to the different production methods of a painting and a photograph substantially influenced the works' overall effect. Therefore, the Supreme Court did not consider the painting to constitute a reproduction of the photograph, but an independent work created on the basis of the photograph. 


According to § 13 of the Copyright Act, any person may make a certain number of copies of a work by photocopying or a similar process. Copyright at Universities is based on the license agreement between the Ministry of Education and Culture and the copyright organisation Kopiosto. A condition for the application of this provision is that the author's consent has been obtained for work's exchange, e.g. for sale in a shop. 

The copyright covers almost all types of publications, such as information and literary works as well as professional and scientific journals. Also copies taken from a digital source are of subject to copyright. According to the license agreement, the same students may have up to 20 pages of one work copied for them during one academic year, however not more than half of the total page count of the book.

The photocopying right does not cover photocopying workbooks, exercise books or answer key books, or published slides or overhead projector transparencies. For more information, visit the Kopiosto webpages. There are also specific conditions linked to photocopying notes, which are discussed in more detail in the article on music.

Images can be photocopied on transparencies and those can be shown during teaching.

The licence agreement doesn’t cover producing digital copies. If somebody wants a scholarly article to be distributed in university intranet or to have photographs in powerpoint show, a permission must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Technical means of protection

Technical means of protection prevent the editing of material and, on the other hand, allow the imposing of conditions on the use of material. The circumvention of technical means of protection is deemed a punishable act in the Copyright Act.  Metadata can be installed in works, e.g. a photographic file may include metadata revealing the author of the photograph. Such electronic management data may not be removed from the work without the copyright owner's permission. Also this is provided by the Copyright Act; removal of rights' electronic management data information is a punishable act. These provisions are based on the EU's Infosoc directive (2001/29/EC), which pertains to copyright.

Private use

According to § 12 of the Copyright Act, any person may make single copies of a disseminated work for his private use. However, such copies may not be used for other purposes.

In case law, the derogating provision regarding private use has been interpreted strictly, and only the exploitation of works that takes place purely for personal needs has been considered appropriate. This refers to the closest circle of family and friends. When copies are made for private use, they are limited to single copies, which are considered to mean 2 to 5 copies.

When a teacher copies works for private use in order to promote his/her professional skills, it is private use. If a researcher copies works for personal use, it is private use. If works are copied for a research group or student group, it is use, which requires permission. A work community is not a circle of friends in the manner intended in the Copyright Act and therefore use in a work community is not private use.

The licence agreement for research and teaching

According to § 14 of the Copyright Act, any person may under the license agreement and in accordance with the Copyright Act, make copies for use in teaching or research activities. Copies made thus may, for the above purposes, be transmitted to the public in ways other than by radio or television. This provision is intended to facilitate production and dissemination of materials necessary for teaching and research. As the provision is implemented using a license agreement, use of works in accordance with the provision requires that the university has made an agreement with the organization responsible for the collective management of the works. The terms of use are determined by the aforementioned agreement.

According to the current license agreement with Kopiosto, recordings of domestic and Nordic educational programs can be made for teaching and research purposes from the YLE, MTV3 and FST5 channels.  In addition, non-educational programs from the above mentioned channels may be recorded and stored for a period of 2 years. YLE radio broadcasts may be recorded. The recording format can be VHS cassette, CD, C-cassette, or digibox. Programs can also be stored in a network server, if the server is used within the university's intranet or a closed network between two educational institutions, which fall under the same license agreement. According to the provision, the use of television and radio programmes recorded for activities other than teaching and research is prohibited. Please see for more information.

According to § 14.2 of the Copyright Act, copies of a work presented by a teacher or student may be made by methods to capturing sound or image. Such reproduction is, however, only permitted for short-term use in teaching. For example, a seminar presentation or lecture by a teacher can be recorded under this provision, without the permission of the author of the work. However, such copies cannot be used for any other purposes.  According to the preparatory materials of the Act, only direct recording of sound or image is permitted, therefore copies of the recording may not be made.  Short-term is taken to mean the time necessary for the teaching situation in question. Uses allowed under the provision may include, for example, the use, by people present in the teaching situation, of the recording to help assess or take in a presentation.

In certain cases, copies of a work presented by the student may need to be kept for longer than just temporarily. In addition, for the legal protection of the student, the image and sound recordings used as examination material may need to be kept for longer than just temporarily.  This can be done by agreement, where the student grants the university limited access to material produced by them.

Performing rights in educational context

According to § 21 of the Copyright Act, a work may be performed publicly in an educational context.

Unrestricted performance right does not, however, apply to teaching, which is carried out for commercial purposes. In other words, if the aim is for the organizer to make a profit, benefit or gain otherwise economically from teaching, unrestricted rights cannot be applied. It is clear, that the provision is applicable for basic university education, where the presentation of published works is always free and unrestricted. Application may be less certain in the context of further education that is subject to charge. In a singular case, application of the provision is affected by the aims and nature of the teaching, whether indirect or direct gain to the organizer is sought from the training and how central the performance of the work is to the training.

Dramatic plays and films are excluded entirely from this provision. The provision can primarily be applied to musical recordings presented in the context of education, and only if there isn’t other terms of agreement. If a musical recording has been bought on condition that it’s only for private use, the agreement must be complied with. An agreement on performing rights can be made for example with Audiovisual Producers Finland - APFI.  

Compilations for public education

Copyright Act § 18 allows for the inclusion of literary works and compositions in a compilation used in public education. The original author retains the right to financial compensation. The limitation provision is only a compulsory license, meaning advance permission is not needed. However, the author still retains the right to compensation. The compilation must constitute the work of several authors. Thus, compilations including only a few (2-3) authors cannot be regarded as sufficient. It is not permitted to include works other than literary works, compositions and also images of published works of art. Still images taken from films or games can be considered within the extent of the provision. The provision can be applied in both commercial and non-commercial education.

A compilation used in teaching can include small parts of literary works or compositions or, where the work is not extensive, the entire work, when five years have passed from initial publication. What constitutes a small part of a work must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Factors to consider are the extent of the part included in the compilation and its significance to the whole work. The provision allows for broader quotation of a copyrighted work than described in the Copyright Act. A part of a literary work or musical composition that could be performed as such may not be considered a small part. Also, where works are not extensive, a case-by-case approach should be applied. For example, short poems or compositions may be completely included in a compilation.

The compilation work must be a print product produced by letterpress or similar method. This provision does not allow the preparation of a compilation in digital format. Thus, for example, the preparation of a product to be used in distance learning over the intranet still requires permission from the material's rights holders.