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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: Luxembourg  Read in: Français | 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?

WIPO definitions apply.

  • Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.
  • Related or neighbouring rights are a separate set of copyright-type rights given to certain persons or bodies that help make works available to the public. The beneficiaries of related rights in national legislations are usually performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organisations. The terms can also refer to rights given to persons or bodies that produce subject matter that, while not qualifying as works under the copyright systems of some countries, contain sufficient creativity or technical and organisational skill to justify recognition via a right similar to copyright.

Copyright and neighbouring rights laws are territorial, and apply within the country in which they were passed. There are some differences in the different national regimes.

 

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

The first owner (before potential transfer by contract) of copyright to a work is generally the original creator or author of the work. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. For example, the economic rights to copyright-protected software initially rest with the person/organisation employing the creator, if the software has been created within the scope of the employment contract. (Article 32(2) of Loi modifiée du 18 avril 2001 sur les droits d’auteur, les droits voisins et les bases de données).

Copyright protects the rights of creators and gives them legal certainty. It allows them to obtain remuneration for their creations and thus generates the development and growth of economic activities linked to intangible creation as well as culture. The consumer benefits from the diversity of cultural and economic offers.

 

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?

No formal registration is required to obtain protection by copyright. Copyright starts with the simple creation of the work. Creators thereby automatically gain rights over their works allowing them to control their subsequent use by third parties.

To be protected by copyright, the work (any work of literary, scientific or artistic nature, including computer programs and databases, as well as photographs) must:

  • have sufficient original character;
  • have taken concrete shape (which excludes ideas or concepts).

 

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?

Copyright infringement consists of the unauthorised use of copyright-protected work. This unauthorised use infringes the author’s or the rights holder’s exclusive rights, and the infringer risks civil proceedings for damages, as well as possible criminal prosecution. A criminal conviction, however, requires that the infringer be aware of the fraudulent or malicious nature of the infringement.

 

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, you always need authorisation before using a protected work. For certain uses, the authorisation may come from a collective management organisation instead of directly from the rights owner, for example, the authorisation to use a song at a public concert.

You may be allowed to use a protected work without any kind of authorisation under two sets of circumstances.

  • Limitations and exceptions may apply, meaning Articles 10, 10bis, 10ter, 34, 35, 46 and 47 of Loi modifiée du 18 avril 2001 sur les droits d’auteur, les droits voisins et les bases de données, which provide the exceptions and limitations to author’s rights and the neighbouring rights.
    • Article 10 provides the exceptions and limitations to the author’s rights. They include, for example, the right to quotation, which allows the use of part of the work under the condition that this part or quotation has to be short and justified by the critical, polemical, educational, scientific or informational purpose of the work in which it is incorporated.
    • Article 10bis lists the permitted uses of databases by the end-user without prior consent from the rights holder. Five situations are set out, such as the possibility for the end-user to reproduce a non-electronic database entirely or in part for private use, etc.
    • Article 10ter provides a specific exception for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled.
    • Articles 34 and 35 provide the exceptions and limitations applicable to softwares.
    • Article 46 provides the exceptions and limitations applicable to the neighbouring rights. These exceptions and limitations are mostly similar to the ones provided in Article 10 regarding the exceptions and limitations to an author’s rights.
    • Article 47 lists some further exceptions and limitations to related rights, for example, when a work is lawfully reproduced, the rights holder cannot oppose its communication to the public or its broadcast.
  • Works can also sometimes be made publicly available under specific conditions or licences that allow certain uses. When using these works, attention must be paid to the specific conditions of the licences in order to identify exactly what is and what is not permitted by the rights holder. There are several licences in common usage, for example, the Creative Commons licence.
  • If you are in doubt, it is always advisable to consult an intellectual property attorney.

 

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?

You always need authorisation before using a protected work (see the answer to question 5). Therefore, without this authorisation, using a copyright-protected soundtrack in a home video and uploading it to a video platform could rarely be considered as lawful. The exceptions of quotations, educational purposes and parody could, however, in compliance with their respective conditions, allow certain uses of copyright-protected works (see Article 10(1), (2) and (6) of Loi modifiée du 18 avril 2001 sur les droits d’auteur, les droits voisins et les bases de données).

 

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

The private copying exception (Article 10(4) of Loi modifiée du 18 avril 2001 sur les droits d’auteur, les droits voisins et les bases de données) allows a physical person to copy lawfully acquired content for private use, excluding direct and indirect commercial purposes, without requiring permission from the rights holders.

 

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?

WIPO:
A common misperception is that works published on the internet, including on social media platforms, are in the public domain and may therefore be widely used by anybody without the authorisation of the rights holder. Any works protected by copyright or related rights — ranging from musical compositions, to multimedia products, newspaper articles, and audiovisual productions — for which the time of protection has not expired, are protected regardless of whether they are published on paper or digitally. In each case you should, generally, seek the authorisation of the rights holder prior to use.

Some websites contain a general licence that may exempt you from requiring a direct authorisation for certain uses. Such licences may authorise only certain uses, for example some non-commercial uses. In practice, with regards to a text publicly available on a blog or a website for example, you may not use the text unless:

  • such intended use is covered by the general licence granted through that website;
  • the use is covered by a copyright limitation or exception, or;
  • you have obtained authorisation for such use.

Neither the technology used, nor a partial download exempts someone from seeking authorisation.

 

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 are tools that restrict the use of or access to a work. These tools should, however, permit the making of private copies of a work, even on a computer. Circumvention of these technical protection measures is prohibited, and in the case of failure to comply with the private copying exception by rights holders, meaning the possibility of making private copies despite the TPM on their works, a professional association may institute proceedings to remove the TPM.

 

10. What are copyright levies?

Copyright levies are levies collected on the purchase of recordable media in order to compensate the rights holders for the copies of their works made under the private copying exception.

 

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

Copyright-protected content can be lawfully streamed and watched on the internet, for example, by legal content providers to their members. In the case of the streaming of pirated content, the question of copyright infringement by viewing this content via streaming has no final answer yet. According to criminal law, however, the deliberate viewing of knowingly illegally uploaded content has be qualified as the offence of recel (handling stolen goods), which is punishable by a penalty of up to EUR 5 000 and up to 5 years’ imprisonment.

 

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?

Only the rights holder of a copyright-protected work has the right to reproduce and to communicate his or her work to the public. Before joining a social media platform, it is therefore important to read the terms and conditions carefully in order to be informed about liability questions and situations of ‘automatic’ inclusion in posts of works belonging to others. Linking to copyright-protected content is infringing when the link leads to direct access to the work by circumvention of technical protection measures. Embedding someone else’s copyright-protected work in a personal website or blog needs prior authorisation from the rights holder, as this embedding implies reproduction and communication to the public.

 

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 lawful transfer of author’s rights is final and means that the rights over the work belong to the new rights holder. If the transfer also includes moral rights, this has to be clearly mentioned in the agreement or the terms in order to be lawful. All moral rights, except for the right to oppose any offence against the author’s reputation, can be transferred lawfully.

 

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?

Depending on the features of the avatar, works protected by copyright or trade mark law may have been infringed, for example, when copying a cartoon character, but each situation has to be examined case by case. If the avatar is created by the end-user in a pre-established framework of limited options, for example, in a computer game, this end-user (who has not programmed the game) cannot be held liable for infringement of copyright or any other IP right. The situation is different if the avatar is created freely outside any given framework of proposed options. In this case, the end-user is free in the creation process and must respect all IP-protected works.

 

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

As official content providers generally do not offer illegal content, the origin of the work is a good indicator as to whether it is offered legally or not. It is equally important to read the general terms and conditions of the website where the content is offered. The audio and/or audio-visual quality of the work can also be a good indicator, as official content providers generally offer good-quality content. Legally offered content is not usually available free as the provider has to cover its costs and generate revenue.

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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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