Most texts are protected by copyright
In most cases texts are protected by the Danish Copyright Act. If a text is protected by copyright, you may only use it for e-learning purposes, including making it available to your students by uploading it to an intranet, if your educational institution has a Copydan agreement or if it is a quote. If not, you will need permission from the copyright holders.
Which texts are protected under the Danish Copyright Act?
Among others, the Danish Copyright Act protects:
- Research articles
- Newspaper articles
- Feature articles
You can also protect small portions of a text, for example half a page in a book.
Texts are only copyright protected if they are “original”, that is, the manmade product of some creative process. It does not take much to meet that requirement. As a rule you can assume that texts are copyright protected.
Read more about protection under copyright in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 3 (available in Danish only).
What about very old work?
The Danish Copyright Act does not protect texts created by authors who have been dead for more than 70 years. Thus you can use those types of texts in an e-learning context without permission. If a text has been translated into Danish, the actual translation will be copyright protected in its own right until 70 years after the year of death of the translator.
Read more about how long copyright protection lasts in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 9 (available in Danish only).
When can you use texts in your teaching material without permission?
In some cases you may use texts without permission.
- If your educational institution has an agreement with Copydan Tekst & Node stipulating that teachers are allowed to use texts for e-learning purposes, you can use texts as defined in the agreement. You can read more about the agreements with Copydan Tekst & Node at www.kopitilundervisning.dk. See also www.tekstognode.dk.
- You are allowed to use quotations, that is, borrow a small part of a published text and use what you have borrowed in your own e-learning material. It is only a quotation if what you borrow has just a limited extent in the work you are quoting from as well as in your e-learning material. When using quotations, remember to clearly indicate the name and source, and set the quoted passage in italics or the like to clearly indicate which part is a quoted passage, and where it starts and ends.
Read more about the use of quotations in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 6, section B.11 (available in Danish only) .
- Naturally, you can use texts that you have written yourself in your teaching material, because you yourself are the copyright holder.
- You are also allowed to use material that is so old that the copyright protection has expired.
Texts available via the Database Service for Schools in Denmark (SkoDa) and other online services
Some educational institutions have agreements with an online service which entitle teachers to use copyright texts in connection with e-learning, for example, the Database Service for Schools in Denmark (SkoDa). The online service has then secured the necessary permissions, enabling users to use certain texts etc. in their teaching material. This does not imply that you can use copyright texts without permission. You have merely obtained permission as a result of the agreement between the educational institution and the online service.
In some cases authors may have partially waived their rights
Some authors allow others to use their texts without asking. For example, if an author publishes an article on the Internet and announces that others are free to use it, you can use it in your teaching material without permission.
Some authors make their texts available on the Internet under a “Creative Commons licence” which is a disclaimer of rights to the effect that you can use the text without asking, subject to certain terms and conditions.
See creativecommons.org for more information.
Read more about Creative Commons in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 7, section I (available in Danish only).
Where do I apply for copyright permission when needed?
In that case you must obtain permission from:
- The author(s) or, if they are dead, their heirs
- Any publishers who may have published the work.
If the work was created by an author as part of his or her work for an employer, the employer sometimes shares the copyright, and then you will also need permission from the employer. Professional course providers often share the intellectual property right of any course material created by the employed teachers.
Read more about intellectual copyright to work created by authors under employment in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 7, section K (avaiable in Danish only).
Copyright to teaching material created by a university teacher very often belongs to the teacher rather than the university. You can read more in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 7, section K.3. This also applies to material created by teachers in elementary schools and upper secondary schools.
In contrast, certain vocational colleges etc. are currently entering into agreements with their staff that the colleges must have a part of the teachers’ copyright. See Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 7, section K.3.b. Also see the article about who holds the copyright to teaching material, “Hvem har ophavsretten til undervisningsmaterialet”, at UBVA.dk. If you want to use teaching material produced by teachers employed by a vocational college which shares the copyright of its staff, you need to get permission from the college in question.
If the text you want to use is a newspaper article, you will – dependent on the agreement entered between the journalist and the newspaper – sometimes have to get permission from the journalist, sometimes from the newspaper, and sometimes both. The easiest way is to contact the newspaper and assume that they know who is in charge of granting permission.
I’m only going to use the work in a closed group forum. Surely that’s private and all right?
No, it is not. If the text you want to upload and make vailable to your students is protected by copyright, you will normally need permission to use it unless a Copydan agreement has been entered or it is a quotation. This is generally the case no matter if you upload the text to the Internet or a closed intranet.