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.

Additional information

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

Read an article in member magazine Acatiimi: Know your rights