4 minute read.

Copyright seems complex, and it actually is. There are rules and exceptions. And they are not the same everywhere. In this article we list a number of aspects of copyright. Let’s start with the question what copyright is.

What is copyright?

For starters, you need a creation, and someone who made it. The creation must be unique. A little different from everything else that already exists. Copyright gives the maker the exclusive right to decide what to do with the creation. The maker does not have to record the creation. Copyright applies as soon as the creation is ‘born’. It is automatically assigned to the maker.

Who are the makers anyway? Think for example of journalists, copywriters, musicians, illustrators, designers, artists and software developers. For them, copyright is the basis of their livelihood. They get the opportunity to exploit their work and earn money from it, and they are protected from other changing the work  without their permission.

Where to register copyright?

Nowhere. You do not have to fill in a form or contract to receive copyright. The copyright automatically belongs to the creator. Or, in the event that the latter has transferred his right or failed upon his death, to his successors in title.

A traditional method to file an idea, is deposit a photo or description with the tax authorities or notary. A modern way is using blockchain technology. In the case of a text, photo or other creation that has already been published, this is not necessary. What is essential in all cases: do not confuse a copyright registration with granting copyright.

Does copyright apply to the internet?

Absolutely. There is no difference in copyright protection between the digital and real world. Unfortunately, there are still many fables about this. Many copyright infringers and as well as creators think that if the source is acknowledged on the internet, their copyright has not been infringed. This is totally incorrect. Just as your creation cannot be copied offline without your permission, it cannot be copied online.

Are there any exceptions?

There are a number of exceptions to copyright.

Third parties may copy short pieces of text from an article, provided that the name of the author and the source are mentioned (The right to quote). Under the guise of quotation law, however, entire articles or large parts may not be copied.

A newspaper, news magazine or a medium that performs the same function may take over articles from another press agency. Only non-original articles can be taken over by other press. If a news item is sufficiently original and creative, the article may not be reproduced.

For copyright, a limitation period applies. It ends after 70 years from January 1 of the following year in which the maker died.

In forums, the premise is that a forum holder cannot be held liable if he has not played an active role in the posting of infringing content. A forum holder is obliged to remove the alleged infringement immediately after notification. If he does not do this, he is liable for the published content.

In the case of framing, someone else’s website is displayed through your website. There is a hyperlink in the frame to the original article. Framing is illegal anyway. But it is doubtful whether it is worthwhile to litigate against this. The question is whether the copyright holder actually suffers damage through framing.

Someone you interviewed has no copyright to the article. However, the question is whether you want to sue an interviewee. In such a case, I expect little goodwill at a court, which may reject the claimed damage.

Can copyright be transfered?

Yes, that’s possible. But only in writing. The transfer may also concern part of the copyright. The personality rights, also called moral rights, remain with the author. These mainly have to do with the bond between the maker and his work. Personality rights allow you to object to the use of your items in a way that is detrimental to your honor, name or dignity.

Who has the copyright? The creator or the client?

That depends on the agreements made between the creator and his client. In most cases the creator has copyright. In the case of permanent employment, employees transfer their copyright to the employer, unless contractually stipulated otherwise.

When is a copy a copyright infringement?

In order to determine if a copy is a copyright infringement, the copy needs to be compared with the original creation. That is not as easy as it may seem. For articles, this means examining how many words are the same, whether the structure matches and whether the unique creative elements are copied. It is an infringement if the copy is made public without the permission of the copyright holder. Public can also mean within an intranet environment.