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FAQs on copyright for consumers

FAQs on copyright for consumers

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on copyright help inform all European consumers about what is legal and what is not when using copyright protected content, such as music or film, on the internet.

As an extension of this successful initiative, the FAQs on copyright for teachers will provide teachers and students from the EU with clear and accurate information on what use of copyright protected content is allowed in the context of education.

15 questions from consumers on copyright for all EU Member States

Answers to the FAQs are given for all EU Member States. They are available in English and at least one of the official languages of the Member State in focus.

How does copyright affect your daily life?

 
Do you post on social media?
Do you add stories to your blog?
Are you streaming legally?
Who owns your work when you upload it to a platform?
Quoting a famous book online? How?
 
 
 

Click on a country in the map or select a country from the list to show the answers for the country:

 

Showing the answers for the country: Austria Read in: Deutsch | English .

 

1. What does copyright and related rights mean and cover, and is it the same all over the world?

2. Who owns copyright and how does copyright benefit creators, 'rights holder(s), consumers, society, economy and culture as a whole?

3. Do I automatically get copyright protection, for example, if I take a photograph with my phone, or do I have to register my work to get protection?

4. What is copyright infringement? Can I get in trouble for copyright infringement? What if I wasn't aware that I infringed something protected by copyright?

5. Under which conditions can I use a work protected by copyright created by another? I was told that using works created by others is simply a quote and thus is always allowed.

6. Am I allowed to use music protected by copyright as a soundtrack for a home video that I made and want to upload on a video platform?

7. Am I allowed to give a copy of a work protected by copyright to a family member or a friend?

8. Am I allowed to download a work protected by copyright from the internet and does it matter which technology is used and whether I download only parts of the work?

9. I tried to copy a movie from a DVD to my computer, but could not do it because of something called ‘Technical Protection Measures’. What is that and am I allowed to get around them in order to make private copies?

10. What are copyright levies?

11. Am I infringing copyright if I watch a movie by streaming it instead of downloading it from the internet?

12. If copyright-protected works are included into my posts automatically by social media platforms, am I responsible for this and is this a copyright infringement? What if I link to them or embed them in my own website or blog?

13. When I create a work and upload it online, terms and conditions of many sites ask for me to transfer my copyright to the site. Does that mean I lose all those rights in them for the future?

14. My avatar is based on my favourite movie star, cartoon character or sports club. Can I get in trouble for infringement of copyright or any other legislation because of this?

15. How do I know whether a work is offered legally or illegally online?

 

 

 

1. What does copyright and related rights mean and cover, and is it the same all over the world?

Full copyright protection is granted only for unique intellectual and creative works. In contrast, related (or neighbouring) rights do not depend on creativity/originality as they convey achievements, often to an audience, and are thus afforded protection. Related rights differ from copyright, for example, in that their scope of application is narrower, terms of protection shorter and moral rights not as comprehensive. The scope of protection of copyright and related rights varies from country to country.

 

2. Who owns copyright and how does copyright benefit creators, 'rights holder(s), consumers, society, economy and culture as a whole?

Copyright-protected works are not ‘owned’ by, but assigned to, their authors. Although ownership itself may not be transferred (except in the case of legal succession), all economic rights may be licensed, though they are often limited in scope, territory and time.

Austrian copyright law ensures that the interests of creators (and other copyright owners), end users/consumers and the public as a whole (society, economy and culture) are protected and well balanced. It seeks to take into account the interests of all stakeholders involved and strives for balance overall (e.g. in the relationship between copyright contract law and the regulations on private copying).

 

3. Do I automatically get copyright protection, for example, if I take a photograph with my phone, or do I have to register my work to get protection?

If a creation is sufficiently ‘peculiarity’ (individual, creative, original) to qualify as a ‘work’ in the legal sense, it is automatically protected by copyright at the moment of creation (a photograph is protected by copyright if the photograph is an intellectual creation of the author reflecting his or her personality and expressing free and creative personal choices in the production of that photograph). Accordingly, copyright protection does not depend on registration or any other formal act in Austria.

 

4. What is copyright infringement? Can I get in trouble for copyright infringement? What if I wasn't aware that I infringed something protected by copyright?

Any kind of unauthorised use of copyright and/or related rights that is not covered by a limitation to copyright may constitute a copyright infringement. In order to counter such infringements, copyright law provides that claims, for example, for omission, adequate compensation, damages and publication of the verdict have to be considered as civil remedies. In this respect, ‘awareness’ (intent, knowledge and/or negligence) generally does not play a role with regard to copyright infringement — except in the case of claims for damages.

 

5. Under which conditions can I use a work protected by copyright created by another? I was told that using works created by others is simply a quote and thus is always allowed.

In general, the use of a protected work requires the consent of the author. However, Austrian copyright law establishes numerous exceptions in the public interest, among them the right to quotation. Of course, not every use of a protected work is a quotation and can be justified as such, as quotations: 1. must be restricted to the extent required by the specific purpose; 2. are not allowed to erode the economic value of the quoted work substantially; and 3. must be recognisable as such.

 

6. Am I allowed to use music protected by copyright as a soundtrack for a home video that I made and want to upload on a video platform?

When an end user uses music protected by copyright as a soundtrack for a home video to be uploaded to a video platform, this may affect the right of reproduction, the right to adaptation, the right of communication to the public and moral rights. Therefore, since the music and the home video are uploaded to a video platform (and exceptions or limitations such as the right to quotation or other limitations are unlikely to apply), the answer is most likely to be ‘no’.

 

7. Am I allowed to give a copy of a work protected by copyright to a family member or a friend?

Yes, it is permitted to give a copy of a work protected by copyright to a family member or a friend if the copy was not produced using an obviously unlawful source copy (Article 42(5) of the Austrian Copyright Act as of 01/10/2015). Additional requirements for legitimate private use are:

  • natural persons and single copies only;
  • no commercial purposes;
  • no public availability/use of the copy;
  • no circumvention of Technical Protection Measures (TPMs).

 

8. Am I allowed to download a work protected by copyright from the internet and does it matter which technology is used and whether I download only parts of the work?

Downloading a work protected by copyright from the internet constitutes an act of reproduction, regardless of the means and technology used. In the unlikely event that the downloaded parts of the work do not contain any peculiarity, there might not be any act of reproduction but the protection afforded by neighbouring rights still has to be considered. Additionally, Austrian copyright law requires that the source copy of the download was not obviously (produced or) made available unlawfully (Article 42(5) of the Austrian Copyright Act; see also Q7 and Q15). This includes the problem of ‘converting’ files that the rights holder does not intend to be downloaded.

Apart from that, it is of course allowed to download copyright -protected content from the internet within the framework of a licensing agreement (e.g. Deezer, Apple iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play).

 

9. I tried to copy a movie from a DVD to my computer, but could not do it because of something called ‘Technical Protection Measures’. What is that and am I allowed to get around them in order to make private copies?

Technical Protection Measures (TPMs) take various forms to prevent and/or control unauthorised access, copying, transmission, use, etc. of copyright-protected content. Rights holders are protected against the circumvention of TPMs, i.e. the copying of a film from a DVD to a personal computer if the private copying bypasses a TPM (see Article 90c of the Austrian Copyright Act). However, the Austrian legislator leaves it to the rights holder to decide whether such measures are applied.

 

10. What are copyright levies?

Copyright levies are intended to compensate (mainly) authors and holders of related rights. They apply to certain forms of use defined by the legislator that do not require the consent of the rights holder. Examples are levies compensating for reprography or for private copying carried out by end users. A copyright levy is due on storage media and reproduction equipment/devices, and is typically paid by the first professional seller of the storage media or reproduction equipment; that is to say the end user only pays the copyright levy indirectly, when making a purchase.

 

11. Am I infringing copyright if I watch a movie by streaming it instead of downloading it from the internet?

It is allowed to stream content from the internet within the framework of a licensing agreement (e.g. YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify, last.fm, Apple Music, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Maxdome) or as temporary acts of reproduction, whereby additional conditions apply. In most cases, streaming generates a (temporary) copy if the streamed part(s) meet(s) the general requirements for protection.

It should be noted that streaming from an obviously illegal source does not seem to be covered by the private copying exception (see also Q7, Q8 and Q15).

 

12. If copyright-protected works are included into my posts automatically by social media platforms, am I responsible for this and is this a copyright infringement? What if I link to them or embed them in my own website or blog?

The uploading of a work to a social media platform constitutes a reproduction and communication to the public (in the latter case, at least in cases where the uploaded content is made available to the public). Even if the uploading takes place ‘automatically’, the holder of the social media account (as content provider) is still held responsible should the ‘automatically’ uploaded content be made available to the public. However, linking to a work that is freely available and embedding such a work in a website or a blog does not constitute copyright infringement.

 

13. When I create a work and upload it online, terms and conditions of many sites ask for me to transfer my copyright to the site. Does that mean I lose all those rights in them for the future?

Consumers should be aware that many sites reserve the right to use their users’ content, as well as to enable other users and third parties to re-publish the content. Such sites often demand from their users a guarantee that they are entitled to license all rights involved to the website providers and to assume all liability in this context.

However, an author cannot completely waive the rights to his or her work, as most of the moral rights are considered inalienable and indispensable. Exceptions might apply, e.g. to the right to be named as author. In addition, exclusive licences may be terminated prematurely for important reasons under certain conditions and may only be transferred (to further licensees) with the author’s consent. Apart from that — according to the case law of the Austrian Supreme Court — in case of doubt, a licence agreement should be interpreted as comprising only the necessary powers for the practical purpose of the intended use of the work.

 

14. My avatar is based on my favourite movie star, cartoon character or sports club. Can I get in trouble for infringement of copyright or any other legislation because of this?

Avatars (images of movie stars, sports clubs, cartoon characters, etc.) may be protected by, for example, copyright law, trade mark law, design law, media law or civil law. In the event that copyright-protected elements are used and are completely absorbed into the avatar (i.e. they take a back seat), the avatar can be considered an entirely new creation that does not need approval for its use. The use of elements protected by trade mark law or design law for an avatar may be justified if the avatar is used in the private domain. This has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

 

15. How do I know whether a work is offered legally or illegally online? 

Austrian copyright law requires that the source copy was not obviously (produced or) made available unlawfully. As this provision (Article 42(5) is brand new, the question whether the source copy was or was not obviously (produced or) made available unlawfully has not been clarified yet. Although the end user’s/consumer’s view would be the point of reference in case of doubt, end users/consumers should refrain from using questionable source copies.

Examples of indicators of ‘obviously illegal’ platforms are:

  • purpose: Often the purpose of the sites is (the facilitation of) copyright infringement. Their business concept is built on large-scale copyright infringements.
  • focus: he sites focus on popular, commercially available, content rather than, for example, user generated content.
  • lack of consumer and youth protection: The sites might expose users to questionable advertising for pornography, online gambling and betting, fraudulent trick buttons, and malware distribution, ignoring the basic rules of ethical business behaviour, legal provisions with regard to the protection of minors, online-gaming and media, and advertising law.

 

 

 

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Disclaimer

The answers to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) were finalised on the date indicated as the status date on the website. Gathering up-to-date information from 27 Member States is an extensive exercise. While the EUIPO tries to keep the information up-to-date, new case-law or legislative reforms may impact the content of the FAQs. Neither the EUIPO nor any person acting on behalf of the EUIPO is responsible for the use which might be made of the FAQs.

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