The Copyright

The Copyright is part of the intellectual property rights. The other intellectual property rights (IPRs) are, for example, the patent and the trademark.

The copyright protects, among other things, the literary and artistic rights of the author. The author has exclusive rights to his/her creation. The financial rights include the right to announce or publish the creation, make it available to the public as well as reproduce it. The author has the right to be mentioned as the author of the creation (the authorial parenting right), and the creation may not be altered in a manner prejudicial to the author’s literary or artistic reputation, or to his individuality; nor may it be made available to the public in such a form or context as to prejudice the author in the manner stated (the deference right). The copyright belongs to an individual and its transfer requires an agreement.

According to the view of the Finnish Union of University Professors, professors should consider the following in the case of transferring (IP) rights produced within a research contract to the university:

  • The transfer of rights should be negotiated on a project-by-project basis.
  • The transfer of rights agreement should be made at a point in which the employee is genuinely aware of which rights he/she is about to transfer and what practical purpose does the right serve.
  • The transfer or rights should be agreed upon to the extent that each research contract’s funding terms and other agreements permit.
  • A compensation should be defined also.
  • The terms regarding research/background material require special attention.
  • There may be special protocols/regulations concerning the project’s leader.

Making teaching material for others is not a professor’s task. The above instructions, where applicable, may also be used in agreements regarding the rights to use teaching material.

In unclear situations, please contact the university’s shop steward, your union chapter representative, or the union office.

Recommendation for good copyright practices

The Finnish Union of University Professors has issued a recommendation for good copyright practices. The recommendation was issued because many universities have included appendices to employment agreements that require employees to relinquish their copyrights. Universities have made an effort to simplify the management of copyrights and other intellectual property rights. However, the use of various standard agreements has led to much more confused contractual situations in multilateral international research projects and with diverse digital materials. It is unreasonable to require that employees relinquish their copyrights in advance and as a condition for employment.

The introduction of the Finnish Union of University Professors’ recommendation provides a brief explanation of copyrights as a basic right. The recommendation includes a model clause for use in employment agreements to expressly specify the rights a professor is willing to relinquish and the relevant amount of compensation. The recommendation will be updated as needed. The recommendation does not cover, for example, multilateral research materials or copyrights for research prototypes and materials.

Partial update of the Copyright Act

The EU directive on copyright in the digital single market and online transmission directive were decreed as part of the Finnish Copyright Act in the manner hoped by the Finnish Union of University Professors, that is, according to the directives. The partial update of the Copyright Act was completed early last year, with the updated act entering into force on 3 April 2023. The amendments to the act improve the position of authors, publishers and performing artists as required by the EU directives.

Appropriate copyright legislation creates the prerequisites for one to make a living from creative work. The possibility of rightholders to cash in on their copyright also creates added financial value for society, which is facilitated by fitting and up-to-date copyright legislation.

Use of works in teaching activities

The updated Copyright Act makes it easier to use works in teaching. The amendments to the Copyright Act that concern use in teaching activities are the collective licencing in section 14 and the new limitation provision in section 14a.

Collective licencing for use in teaching, as specified in the amended section 14, now also includes public performance as well as cinematographic works. Collective licencing also covers teaching activities carried out for the purpose of gain.

The limitation provision of section 14a means that if the licence is not easily available or available at all, a work could be used for the purpose of illustration of teaching without remuneration. In practice, this increases the pressure on collective rights management to ensure that the licences are easily available to educational institutions. Previously outside the scope of the regulation, sheet music is now also covered. The limitation does not include the authors’ right for remuneration. The Government proposal states that the need to regulate the right to remuneration could be examined later, after gaining experience on the practicality of the provisions.

Several university licences have also been reformed or expanded. Primarily works can still be used in accordance with the copyright licences obtained by educational institutions. Perhaps the most significant reform for use in teaching activities is that videos from YouTube and similar services can be played for the purpose of illustration of teaching.

Platform services responsible for content

The new Chapter 6a of the Copyright Act states that platform services have copyright liability for the content they communicate. This means that internet platforms are obliged to obtain authorisation for the use of contents and pay the authors appropriate remuneration. Platforms are also obliged to remove unauthorised contents. In practice, contents on social media platforms can be used more safely as the obtaining of authorisation is more clearly the responsibility of the platforms.

Several licences are available for teaching activities which allow for even wider copying of works and use in teaching than just illustration. These include, for example, Kopiosto’s copying licence and licence for using TV programmes. Each person engaged in teaching should know which licences their university has obtained and what licences are available.

New parody limitation secures memes

Section 23a covers use in parody, caricature and pastiche. The section is based on the directive requirement to enforce certain copyright limitations mentioned in the information society directive.

Parody limitation means that a person may use copyright protected content without an agreement concerning use or remuneration, provided they can demonstrate that it is used in parody as intended by the limitation. Such content includes, for example, memes.

Works can be used in text and data mining

A new provision was added to the Copyright Act, based on which works can be used in text and data mining. Only works to which the person has lawful access, i.e. which are lawfully and openly available on the web, can be used in mining. However, the limitation is not unconditional; if they wish to, the author or publisher of a work can reserve the right to use the work in text and data mining. This reservation of the right can be done, for example, in the terms of use for the work. The use of works in text mining for the purpose of scientific research cannot be prevented or restricted by contracts or agreements.

It should be noted that copies of works can only be stored for the purpose of text and data mining and not made available to the public for example. Research organisations and cultural heritage institutions may retain copies of works for the purpose of scientific research and subsequent verification of research results.

Author’s position improved in transfer of rights

The author’s position in negotiation and contract situations was strengthened. A new provision was added to the Copyright Act, based on which the author is entitled to receive an appropriate and proportionate remuneration if they transfer the exclusive rights or grant an exclusive licence. At the university level, the Finnish Union of University Professors is advocating that the remuneration stipulated in the new legislation is taken into consideration in copyright transfer agreements.

The original author is also entitled to receive from the user, on a regular basis, a report on the exploitation of their work. The report must be given if the user of the work has generated revenue from the exploitation of the work and if the remuneration due to the author depends on the extent of the exploitation.

The right of the author to revoke the transfer of rights was also improved. The author has the right to revoke if the transferee has not exploited the work within a reasonable time and within six months of the author having notified the transferee of the lack of exploitation. The author is not required to refund any remuneration received as a result of the revocation of the transfer of rights.

Additional information

Read an interview (March 22, 2021) with the Chair of the Board of the Finnish Union of University Professors Jukka Heikkilä: Copyright ensures the freedom of scientific and artistic work

Read an interview April 6, 2021) with professor Petri Mäntysaari: If a professor grants a license, the best option is a parallel license