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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: Latvia Read in: Latviešu | 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 is the right granted to an author to determine if and how other persons can use his or her creative works, for example, literary, visual or musical, and what the remuneration for each should be. Related rights are the rights granted to performers, phonogram producers, film producers and broadcasting organisations. Related rights protect the results of the activities of such persons, that is to say, performances, phonograms, films and broadcasts. Copyright comprises the author’s rights to control the economic use of his or her work (economic rights) as well as the protection of his or her special personal connection to his or her work (moral rights). Moral rights include the author’s right to be recognised and indicated as the author or to use a pseudonym, to decide on the publication of a work, to oppose distortion of a work and other rights. Authors and holders of related rights have numerous economic rights, including the right to permit or to prohibit reproduction, communication to the public, distribution or alteration of the works.

The copyright laws of different countries have common principles and are often similar, but they are not the same all over the world. They vary due to different cultural and legal traditions as well as socio-economic conditions. At the same time, international and regional conventions have brought these different laws closer and facilitated cross-border cooperation and the use of copyrighted works.

 

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

Copyright initially belongs to an author, that is to say, a natural person who is the creator of the work. The author’s economic rights can be transferred or assigned to other persons, for example, heirs, employers, publishers and commissioners of the work. The author’s moral rights cannot pass to other persons during the lifetime of the author. Similarly to the author’s economic rights, the performer’s, phonogram producer’s, film producer’s and broadcasting organisation’s rights can be assigned to other persons.

Copyright plays a significant role in ensuring appropriate remuneration to creators for their contribution to the culture and knowledge of society. Copyright also provides an opportunity to recover the costs invested in the creation of copyrighted works and to gain the necessary means to create new ones. Moreover, copyright serves as an important tool of cultural policy to ensure a higher level of social protection for artists, finance cultural projects and facilitate the export of culture. In the era of the knowledge-based economy, copyright contributes to the overall well-being of society and to economic growth.

 

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?

A work, for example a photograph, is protected by copyright automatically — as soon as it is created. In order to get the protection there is no need to register the work or to comply with any other formalities, for example, use of the copyright symbol (©). Copyright protection applies to works that are the result of an author’s (natural person’s) creative efforts, that is to say, the author has had freedom of choice as to the content and design of his or her work. There is no freedom of choice if a person is bound by rigid instructions, for example, if he or she has to create a work based on a precise drawing and is then unable to influence the final content and design of the work. A photographer usually has such freedom of choice. Therefore, a photograph is protected by copyright as soon as it has been taken.


 

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 occurs when a person violates the moral or economic rights of authors or holders of related rights; for example, he or she makes copies of a work, puts it on the internet, alters it or uses the work without notifying its author or gaining prior consent, and when, in accordance with the law, there is no defence based on any copyright exception or limitation.

Copyright infringement can lead to civil, administrative or criminal liability (in case of substantial harm caused to the rights holder). Therefore, a copyright infringer may have to face negative consequences, including an obligation to compensate the author’s losses and moral injury caused.

If a person is unaware that he or she has infringed copyright, he or she is not free from liability, but may face milder consequences. An infringer’s wish to terminate ongoing infringement can play a significant role in resolving a dispute with the author.

 

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.

A work protected by copyright and created by another person can be used under the following conditions:

  •     the work can be used only for scientific, research, polemical or critical purposes;
  •     the work can be used only to the extent necessary for the abovementioned purposes (usually this extent is rather small);
  •     the use cannot cause harm to the author’s legitimate interests, for example lead to a decrease in sales of this work in the market and, consequently, the author’s income.


If these conditions are fulfilled, there is no need to receive the author’s consent. There is, nevertheless, an obligation to indicate the author’s name or, if the name is not known, the fact that the author is unknown and the source of quotation. In other cases, the author’s consent (licence) must be obtained for use of the work. Sometimes, it is granted to an unlimited number of persons and available online. Otherwise, the author or other rights holder (e.g. publisher) must be contacted and asked for a licence. If you are unsure as to whether a licence is necessary, please contact the author or other rights holder.
 

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?

It is necessary to obtain the consent of the author and holders of related rights of the respective piece of music (authors of music and lyrics, performers, music producers etc.) in order to use it as a soundtrack for a home video and to upload it to the video platform. You must obtain this consent only in cases when permission has not been granted to the administrator of the video platform. Therefore, it is advisable to read the terms and conditions of the relevant video platform first.

At the same time, there are many music resources that are available on the internet for personal (non-commercial) use and are free of charge due to the fact that the rights holders have granted the necessary permission via open content licences (e.g. Creative Commons licences). Usually, under these licences, the permission to use music is granted to everyone and there is no need to contact the authors and holders of related rights.

Please, take into account that when you use music as a soundtrack for a home video, you are not allowed to record it without the consent of the rights holders. Moreover, you must indicate the author’s and the related rights holder’s names when you upload the video to the platform.

 

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

Yes, you are allowed to make one copy of a lawfully acquired work protected by copyright and give it to a family member or friend. A work is acquired lawfully if, for example, you have purchased a CD of your favourite music group or downloaded the respective music album to your personal computer from an online store.

 

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?

You are allowed to download a work protected by copyright from the internet provided you have the author’s permission. The permission to download can be indicated in the terms and conditions of the respective internet site or can be derived from the reference to an open content licence or its terms. The type of technology used is of no importance in these circumstances. The amount of the work downloaded also does not matter as long as it is protected by copyright, that is to say, it complies with the criterion of creativity (originality).

If a work protected by copyright is made available online lawfully, that is to say, with the author’s permission, you are allowed to download (save on your personal computer) one copy of this work for personal (non-commercial) use. There is no need to seek the author’s permission separately, and you are allowed to give this copy to a family member or friend.

 

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?

Technological protection measures (TPMs) refer to any technology, device or component thereof used to restrict or prevent copyright-protected works or other subject matter (e.g. films or music recordings) from illegal use.

There are two types of TPM: firstly, those that restrict access to works or other subject matter, for example, different kinds of authorisation systems (under these systems it is possible to use the works only if the user has gained the necessary access data from the rights holder, for example, registration number for software); secondly, those that restrict the possibility to copy the work. The circumvention of TPMs is not allowed. Nevertheless, if you have the rights to use a work, for example, to copy a film for private use, but you are unable to do it due to a TPM (restricting copying from a DVD), you are allowed to require the rights holder to provide the respective possibility. If the rights holder ensures you can get the copy of the film for personal use by other means, for example, by ordering it from the rights holder free of charge, you are not allowed to request deactivation of the TPM.

 

10. What are copyright levies?

A copyright (blank tape) levy is the remuneration paid to authors and other rights holders for the copying of their works and other subject matter (e.g. music recordings) for personal use (private copying). According to the law, if a natural person wants to make one copy of the work or other subject matter for personal use, with no direct or indirect commercial purpose, this person is not obliged to receive the rights holders’ permission. The levy is paid by the manufacturers and persons who import the equipment used for private copying and blank data carriers into Latvia (e.g. CD, DVD, USB flash drives). The levy is not directly paid by the end user, but it is included usually in the price of the copying equipment or blank data carriers.

The blank tape levy does not serve as remuneration for private copying on paper (reprographic reproduction) as for this type of private copying there is a special regulatory framework provided in the Copyright Law of Latvia. Essentially, remuneration for private copying on paper is paid by persons who own or possess the equipment intended for reprographic reproduction and who ensure the availability of such reproduction to natural persons for a fee or free of charge (i.e. copy shops).

Copying of sheet music is explicitly exempted from copyright exception for reprographic reproduction and is not included under the general private copying exception. Sheet music may be copied only with the author’s prior consent.

 

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

If the movie is acquired from a legal source, it does not matter whether you watch it by streaming or if you have previously downloaded it from the internet. The source is deemed to be legal if there are no obvious grounds for doubt that the works and other subject matter are uploaded with the rights holders’ (authors’, movie producers’ etc.) permission (please, also read the answer to Question 15). When the movie is streamed, it is to a certain extent being copied (temporarily reproduced). Therefore, at least in cases where the movie is streamed from an obviously illegal source, such streaming will most likely be considered as copyright infringement. Thus, it is recommended to access only sites that cause no doubt as to their legality.

 

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?


If the works protected by copyright are automatically embedded or linked in your posts on social media platforms, it is usually not considered to be copyright infringement and there is no need to resolve any liability issues; that is to say, you are not responsible for such activities. A similar conclusion applies when you make links to these works or embed them in your own website or blog. However, if the work itself is included automatically in a post on a social media platform, it is advisable to clarify whether you are able to influence such automatic inclusion, for example by modifying your user account settings. If you are able to do so, it is advisable to reject the possibility of automatic inclusion unless the rights holder has granted the necessary permission, for example by applying an open content licence to his or her work or by granting permission to use his or her work on the social media platform (please, read the terms and conditions of the platform).

 

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?

If, according to the terms and conditions of the internet site, you grant non-exclusive rights of use (a non-exclusive licence) of your work to the site, you retain your copyright and can grant licences to use your work or assign (give away) your economic rights to other persons. However, if according to the terms and conditions of the internet site you grant an exclusive licence, all the author’s economic rights or ‘all copyright’ of your work to the site, you lose the rights to use the respective work yourself unless you can prove that the respective terms are invalid due to lack of written form or because they are contrary to the principle of good faith. In order to avoid legal uncertainty and to clarify the scope of your rights after uploading the work to the internet site, it is advisable to read its terms and conditions carefully and the copyright provisions thereof beforehand.

 

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 cartoon character and different elements of a sports club’s identity, for example its name and logo, can be protected by copyright. Therefore, it may be necessary to obtain permission from the rights holders to use them in public, including in the virtual world. If you have used copyright-protected works (their elements) only as sources of inspiration and the avatar is mainly your creation, there is no need to obtain the rights holders’ permission for such use of the works. The use of the image of a favourite film star as a basis for your avatar is not copyright infringement.

A cartoon character and sport club’s name and logo can be protected as trade marks. The use of a trade mark as a basis for the avatar is allowed without the permission of the rights holder if it is of a non-commercial nature, that is to say, its use is not related to commercial activity (financial gain) of any kind.

Please, take into account that the portrayal of another person in the public environment can be related to this person’s personal rights, for example the protection of their honour and dignity. If in doubt, it is advisable to clarify whether this person agrees with his or her portrayal in the virtual world via the use of an avatar.

 

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

Different indicators can suggest whether a work is being offered illegally online, for example open references of the respective site to the unlawful origin of its content, a lower than usual quality of content or when a movie is available before its official launch, etc. Experience and knowledge of the ways in which legal content is usually offered can be helpful in identifying illegal content. The following indicators can suggest that the content available online is being offered legally: the respective site is advertised in reliable media, the content is protected by TPMs (please, read the answer to Question 9), etc.

Furthermore, more and more online databases that gather and provide information on the legally available content in the respective country are being developed. The Latvian portal Ņem droši! is available here.

 

 

 

 

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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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