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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: Denmark Read in: Dansk | 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?

Copyright law protects artistic and literary works provided that the works are original. A work is original if the author has made creative choices. Apart from works, copyright law also protects other creations of an artistic and of a technical nature. Such creations are protected by what are known as ’related rights’. Arguably, the most significant of the various related rights protects the performances of performing artists (musicians, singers, etc.). Some related rights protect creations devoid of any artistic elements. For instance, phonogram producers have a related right to the sound recordings that they make. Consequently, a phonogram producer obtains independent related rights that are unrelated to the rights of the creative and performing artists who have contributed to the content of the sound recording. Similar rights are granted, inter alia, to producers of moving pictures and radio and television broadcasters. Copyright implies the exclusive right to control a work by reproducing it and making it available to the public, for example, by selling copies of the work to the public or by making the work freely available on a website. When a copyrightable work is used, the author has a right to be identified by name as the author in accordance with the requirements of proper usage. Furthermore, the work of an author must not be used in a manner or in a context that is prejudicial to the author's literary or artistic reputation or individuality, for example, in a political or a religious context. Danish copyright law belongs to the continental-European copyright tradition and differs somewhat from British and American copyright law. The rationale of continental-European copyright law is primarily concerned with the protection of the author as a person, compared to the rationale of British and American copyright law, which is more concerned with the efficient functioning of the market. However, in practice, there is not much difference between the two traditions.

 

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

Copyright always originates in the natural person who has created the literary or artistic work. Many copyrightable works are created in the course of employment. For instance, a daily newspaper employs journalists to write articles for the newspaper. In such a situation, the copyright originates in the individual journalist, who then owns the copyright. However, it would be an untenable situation if the daily newspaper had to ask the journalists’ permission to publish their articles in the newspaper. Therefore, the courts have created a rule according to which copyright on works created in the course of employment is transferred to the employer to the extent necessary for the ordinary running of the employer’s business. In other situations, the assignment of copyright from one person to another requires an agreement. For instance, when a person has commissioned an artist to make a painting, and has received the painting and paid for it, copyright in the painting still remains with the artist. Many authors, in exchange for remuneration, enter into agreements on the assignment of their rights with commercial entities, which are more able to exploit the value of the works in the market. Thus, authors often assign copyright in their manuscripts to publishers, and composers assign copyright to phonogram producers, etc. It is a characteristic of most copyrightable works that creating works requires significant resources, whereas copying them requires little. Therefore, copyright’s prohibition against copying is an important prerequisite for the profitability of creating new works. A large number of industries (entertainment, media, IT, etc.) depend heavily on copyright and would be very different without a valid copyright system. In a world without copyright, it is likely that fewer works, requiring fewer resources, would be created, which would be to the detriment not only of creating and performing artists, who would find it more difficult to maintain a living, but also to users and to society 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?

Copyright arises automatically when a work is created. This means that the creator of a copyrightable work does not need to have the work registered or to do anything else in order to enjoy the benefits of copyright protection. In Denmark, there is no voluntary registration of copyrightable works. If a person uses his or her mobile phone to make a photographic work, he or she will be granted copyright protection on the photograph from the moment it is taken. The photograph is only protected as a copyrightable work if the photographer has made creative choices. This means that the photographer has to have considered such issues as the background, the subject’s pose, the lighting, the framing, the angle of the view and the atmosphere created. In this way, the photographer can stamp the work created with his or her ‘personal touch’. If the photographer uses his or her mobile phone to take a ’snapshot’ without giving consideration to such matters, the photograph is not considered original and therefore not protected by copyright. However, such ’snapshot’ will be protected by the related right under the Danish Copyright Act, which also protects against copying and against communication to the public. All photographs are protected by this related right, whether they are original or not, and protection begins from the moment the camera shutter is released.

 

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?

If you use another person’s copyrightable work in a way that is covered by the exclusive rights and without being granted permission, you infringe copyright. For instance, downloading a work from the internet to a computer is covered by the right of reproduction. However, downloading from the internet does not always constitute infringement. Thus, downloading a work to a computer does not constitute infringement if the work has already been uploaded to the internet and made available to the public with the permission of the author. In this case, downloading to a personal computer qualifies as lawful private copying. However, in cases where the work has been uploaded without the author’s permission, the work has been made available to the public unlawfully, and hence the subsequent download of the work will also be unlawful. Sometimes it is difficult to ascertain whether a work available on the internet is lawful or unlawful. Someone who makes another person’s copyrightable work available for the public, for instance by uploading it to a private and freely available website, will always be infringing copyright unless permission has been obtained. The person who infringes copyright may be subject to various legal remedies and sanctions,, the most important of which, in practice, are injunctions and the award of damages. Damages cannot be awarded unless the infringer was aware or ought to have been aware that the act in question constituted infringement (bona fide). However, lack of knowledge of the valid legal rules cannot exempt the infringer from liability. In practice, this means that one of the few situations in which an internet user can be exempted from liability because of lack of knowledge is where the internet user genuinely had no knowledge or responsibility for the fact that the works in question had been made available to the public unlawfully.

 

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.

It is lawful to use the copyrightable work of another if either the author has granted permission for use of the work or the use is covered by one of the exemptions or limitations to copyright protection. If a user wants to use a work from a website, he or she ought first to examine the text of the website in order to ascertain if permission has been granted for use and, if so, then to check the scope of the permission which determines the lawful usage of the work. If permission to use the work has not been granted, use of the work is lawful only if it is covered by an exemption or limitation to copyright protection. It is, for instance, lawful to quote from a protected work even in cases where the author has not granted permission. A quotation constitutes use of part of a work, so the freedom to quote from a protected work does not extend to reproducing the work in its entirety. There is no fixed rule on the maximum extent of a lawful quotation. Hence, even if no more than, for example, 5% of the protected work is used, lawful quotation cannot be relied on as a defence in all circumstances. Whether a quotation is lawful is assessed on the basis of qualitative criteria and the context in which the quotation is used. A person may lawfully quote from a work in accordance with proper usage and to the extent required for the purpose. It is lawful to quote more comprehensive parts of a work for the purposes of reviews and reports than for other purposes.

 

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 a person makes a private video recording and incorporates the musical works of others as a soundtrack in order to make the recording more attractive or amusing, that person exploits the copyrightable works of others. This is lawful as long as it is done within the private sphere, in other words for private purposes. It is also lawful when the recording, including the soundtrack, is performed, because the performance takes place in a private, and not a public, context. However, copyright in the musical works is infringed whenever the recording is uploaded to an internet platform that is available to the public . In this scenario, infringement occurs because the musical works are now performed for the public, and such an act requires permission from the owners of the copyright to the musical works. When the works are made available to the public in this way, the recording of the musical works also becomes unlawful because it can no longer be considered as having been made for private purposes.

 

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

It is an essential copyright rule that it is lawful to make copies of copyrightable works for private purposes without having to ask permission from the copyright holder. The rule on private copying distinguishes between analogue and digital copying. Digital copying comprises, for example, the copying of data files, downloads from the internet and the burning of CDs. Analogue copying comprises, for example, the copying of texts or images by means of a traditional copier. Even though modern copiers actually make digital scans of the material, this is considered, for the purpose of copyright law, to be analogue copying. It is lawful for a person to make digital copies for his or her personal use or for the use of others in the same household, but not for anyone else. The scope of lawful analogue copying is broader since a person is permitted to make private copies not only for persons in his or her household, but also for close family members, good friends and close colleagues. As a general rule, it is lawful to make private copies for anyone with whom the user has a close personal tie. A number of additional conditions also have to be satisfied for private copying to be lawful. Firstly, private copies are only lawful if they are made on the basis of a lawful reproduction of the work. Secondly, it is only permissible to make ‘single copies’ of the works. ‘Single copies’ does not indicate an exact number; the allowable number of copies depends on the circumstances. Thirdly, private copying must not be done for commercial purposes.

 

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 from the internet to a personal computer is a way of copying and is therefore covered by the exclusive right of reproduction. Copying in the copyright sense of the word takes place even if only a small part of the work is reproduced, because the term ‘copying’ comprises any direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction, in whole or in part, by any means and in any form. However, if the part of the work downloaded is so small that the original work’s originality and the creative choices made by the author are not reflected in the downloaded part, the download is not subject to the author’s exclusive right of reproduction and the download thus does not require permission from the author. Even when downloads are subject to the author’s exclusive right of reproduction, not all downloads are unlawful. It is lawful to download a work for personal use if it has been uploaded to the internet and made available with the author’s consent because, in this situation, the download constitutes a lawful private copy. However, if the work has been uploaded to the internet and made available without the author’s consent, the upload is unlawful and, as a result, the subsequent download will also be unlawful. The technology used is irrelevant when determining whether downloads are lawful or not.

 

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?

Many copyrightable works are protected by technological protection measures (TPMs), which are various types of technological devices that prevent or restrict the use of works. Normally, a DVD bought in North America cannot be played on a European DVD player. The Danish national broadcaster, Danmarks Radio, has established an online archive service, called Bonanza, that cannot be accessed from outside the territory of Denmark. Such restrictions on the use of copyrightable works are due to TPMs. There is a rule in the Copyright Act that prohibits the circumvention of TPMs. There are only a few, relatively narrow, exceptions to that rule. For the ordinary consumer, there would normally be just one situation where it is lawful to circumvent a TPM, namely where he or she has bought a copyright-protected product or service and is not able to use it without circumventing a TPM, for example, a Danish consumer who has bought a DVD in North America that is encoded for that territory. However, it is not lawful for a consumer to circumvent TPMs solely in order to make an otherwise lawful private copy.

 

10. What are copyright levies?

The Copyright Act provides for a special remuneration scheme for blank media onto which sound or images can be recorded. The scheme involves remuneration being paid to the copyright management organisation Copydan KulturPlus whenever blank media, such as blank sound tapes and videotapes, CDs, DVDs, Blue Rays, memory cards, Mini Discs and USB Flash Drives are sold. Since consumers use such blank media to record music, film and television for themselves, the idea behind the scheme is for the remuneration to compensate rights holders for this otherwise lawful private copying of their work. The companies that produce or import blank media pay the remuneration to Copydan, with the result that consumers have no direct experience of the remuneration scheme. However, it does mean that the prices of blank media are higher than they might be in the absence of the remuneration scheme. The remuneration collected is divided amongst the rights holders of broadcasts, film and music on the basis of a quantitative estimate of how likely it is that each work has been copied. The estimate depends, among other things, on the popularity of the work in the relevant period and on how often the work has been performed in the relevant period.

 

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

When a user streams a film from the internet, the film is not downloaded in its entirety to the user’s computer. Nevertheless, streaming of copyrightable works constitutes reproduction within the meaning of copyright law because small parts of the film are continuously reproduced in the memory of the user’s computer. Since the right of reproduction covers any temporary reproduction, in part, by any means and in any form, it also covers the small parts of a film that are continuously reproduced during streaming. Therefore, it is only lawful for users to stream a film if either: (1) the rights holder has granted permission; or (2) the film has been made available on the internet by the rights holder or with the latter’s consent, in which case the reproduction is considered lawful private copying.

 

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?

Uploading copyrightable works to a social media account implies the acts both of reproduction and of making the works available to the public. Both acts are covered by copyright protection and hence require the permission of the rights holder. If a consumer, instead of uploading the work to his or her social media account, inserts a link to the work on another website, and the work has been uploaded to that website with the consent of the rights holder, the legal situation is different. In most cases, such a link will not involve copyright infringement. As a general rule, the same applies to all kinds of links, including embedded links. If infringing works are automatically uploaded to a consumer’s social media account, the consumer risks liability for infringement. However, the consumer will not be liable unless he or she knew or ought to have known how to prevent the works from being made available.

 

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?

A consumer who opens a social media account or signs up as a user on another type of internet platform enters into a contract with the owner of the social media or internet platform. Such a contract will often regulate copyright ownership issues. Normally, a social media user, upon opening an account, assigns the copyright to his or her own works (e.g. photographs and text) whenever those works are uploaded to the user’s account page. Certain parts of copyright are inalienable and hence remain with the account holder. However, most parts of copyright can be transferred to others. How much of an account holder’s copyright is transferred to the social media or internet platform depends on the terms and conditions of the social media or internet platform in question.

 

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?

A consumer who creates his or her own avatar for use in a virtual space and bases it on the creations of others, or on the distinctive signs of others, risks infringing copyright or other rights. For example, a cartoon character can be protected by copyright if it constitutes an artistic work. If such a copyright-protected cartoon character is used in the public sphere, the copyright in the character is infringed. In contrast, if the consumer only uses small, insignificant parts of the character in his or her avatar, use of the latter in the public sphere may be lawful. An avatar based on a sports club may infringe trade mark rights to the club’s name and logo. However, as long as the avatar is not used in a commercial context, trade mark rights are not infringed. The images of famous people are protected neither by copyright nor by trade mark rights but by the common-law right to one’s own image. An avatar based on another person’s image will infringe this common-law right if it is used in a public context.

 

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

It is often difficult for consumers to establish whether works available on a website are legal or illegal. If the works are illegal and they are downloaded or streamed by a consumer, that consumer infringes copyright. There is no sure way of knowing whether works available on a website are legal. Consumers are liable for damages if they download or stream works for private purposes where they know or ought to know that the works are illegal. The courts have established that if a website offers a very large number of popular works for free, then consumers ought to know that the works are illegal. If consumers are in doubt as to the legality of works available on a website, they can ask around. If a sufficient number of people believe that the works are legal, the consumer has not behaved negligently and is not liable for damages.

 

 

 

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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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