Teachers have copyright

As a rule, teachers who produce their own e-learning material own the copyright to it, no matter if it is text, images, music, film or something else.

The scope of copyright

You automatically get copyright as soon as you have created the material. You do not have to mark the material with a © mark.

Read more about what is covered by copyright in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright (available in Danish only), chapter 3.

If your e-learning material contains something you have created yourself and something which others have produced, you own the copyright to the work you have produced whereas the others hold the copyright to their work. For example, a digital compendium for which you have written the text yourself, but which also contains photographs you have found on the Internet. Although you hold the copyright to the text, you can only use the material in e-learning contexts if the legal matters concerning the pictures have been settled.

Copyright – and so what?

Owning the copyright to your own material means that as a rule others are not allowed to use it in an e-learning context unless you have given your permission or unless it is a quotation or there is a Copydan agreement etc.

Read more about what it Means to have copyright in Ophavsret for begyndere a beginner´s guide to copyright, chapter 5.

Does teachers’ copyright not automatically lie with the educational institution?

No. As a rule it lies with the teachers.

However, these years a number of vocational colleges and similar schools are looking to get a share of the teachers’ copyrights to teaching material. The main reason is that many of the colleges and schools spend large amounts of money to get the employees to make e-learning courses, including quizzes, films and interactive e-learning courses. Some places they have established actual e-learning units, where professional staff is available to help the employees implement their e-learning schemes. In exchange, the schools and colleges in question want a share of the employee’s copyright to the material. The schools and colleges would among other things like to encourage knowledge sharing between employees and reuse of each other’s material. Besides, the schools perceive it as unacceptable that employees, who get a new job, can take all their material and sue their former workplace for copyright infringement if it continues to use the material which it has helped to pay for.

UBVA recommends that the parties conclude an agreement. The most appropriate way is if the school’s management conclude the agreements with the teachers’ trade union representative. It is important, however, that the agreements take the schools as well as the teachers into due consideration. Among other things, it is crucial that the teachers themselves retain the right to their books.

You can read more about this here.

What if someone infringes your copyright?

If anyone infringes on your copyright and for example reuses your e-learning work without permission, the best policy is always to take it leniently, that is, contact the person in question and talk things over. If that does not help, the next step is to contact your trade organisation. Members of the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations can contact UBVA.

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