Go to home page
Observatory
On infringements of intellectual property rights

Promoting and supporting intellectual property value

Menu

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: Portugal Read in: Português | 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?

An author’s rights designate the rights that protect literary or artistic creations, granting the author an exclusive right of economic exploitation, with the power to authorise third parties to enjoy and use his or her creation/work and also personal or moral rights, which ensure respect for the personal contribution of the author, that is to say, the authorship, the authenticity and the integrity of the creation/work. The protection granted by an author’s rights focuses on the expression or manifestation (form) of the creation/work and not on the ideas on which it is based. Ideas and subjects, procedures, systems, operational methods, concepts or discoveries are not protected by author’s rights, as these are commands of action or execution without artistic expression.

Various types of creation/works are protected by author’s rights, namely literary works, such as books, magazines, newspapers, lectures, speeches, poems, dramatic and dramatico-musical works, choreographic works, musical compositions with or without lyrics, films, television shows, phonographic, videographic and broadcasting compositions, and artistic works such as designs, paintings, sculptures, ceramic, photography, applied art, illustrations, architectural projects and advertising phrases. Software and databases are protected by a special legal regime that is analogous to the author’s rights. Some works, such as translations, cinematographic adaptations and other transformations of a work (even if the work is not protected by author’s rights), summaries and compilations of works (which may or may not be protected), reports and texts of conventions, laws, reports or administrative or judicial decisions are considered to be original creations, and as such are also protected by author’s rights. The title of a creation or a work or the title of newspapers or any periodical publications may also be protected by author’s rights, under certain conditions.

The neighbouring/related rights to the author’s rights protect the performances of actors, singers, musicians, dancers, or those that represent, sing, recite, declaim, interpret or perform literary or artistic works in any way, and the performances of producers of phonograms and videograms and of broadcasting entities.

Author’s rights grant national protection (granted by the law of each country) that is independent from protection that is granted in several countries. Although there are many similarities in the scope of the protection granted by the national author’s rights and the protection granted in other countries, there are still some differences in the grant requirements, the scope of the powers granted to authors, and to the requirements of registration formalities.

 

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

Author’s rights belong to the author/intellectual creator of a work, except in cases where the work is made under a contract that regulates the ownership of works that may originate from creative activity, as occurs, for instance, in the case of works made to order or on behalf of others, in the exercise of official duties or employment. Authors’ rights can also be owned by natural or legal persons that have organised and coordinated the creation of a work and under whose name the work has been published or disclosed — these are called ‘obras coletivas’ (collective works). By granting the owner an exclusive right to economic exploitation of the work, and therefore the possibility of being compensated for creative effort and for the contribution to the development of culture in society, author’s rights aim to stimulate the continuation of creative activity. To the owners of author’s rights that are not intellectual creators of works, the exclusive right to economic exploitation makes compensation possible and the return of the investment made by the organisation via the conditions and means necessary to the creation of the works, stimulating new investments in the industry of artistic and cultural assets. Author’s rights, by allowing fair compensation, will guarantee the production of a higher flow of artistic and cultural assets for consumers’ benefit, raising society’s cultural, artistic and scientific level as a whole, by the general evolution in the satisfaction gained from art and from cultural and scientific knowledge. However, only by the provision of balanced limitations to the scope of author’s rights can users of protected works (teachers, students, libraries, museums, etc.) have better access to cultural assets and knowledge, which are undoubtedly essential for stimulating creativity.

 

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?

Author’s rights arise, in general, from the creation and expression (‘exteriorisation’) of a work, and their protection is not conditioned by verification of any other requirements. Therefore, it is frequently said that author’s rights are born with the expression of the work, and are therefore automatic. The nature or type of media used in the creation of the work, or the materials in which the work is expressed, are not a condition for the existence of an author’s rights and protection of the work. For example, a photograph taken using the camera of a mobile phone may be protected by author’s rights if it manifests a personal, artistic creation of its author, for instance, if the photographer made certain creative choices when framing the shot. A photograph that is merely limited to capturing a location or state of real events may be a photograph, but it may not be deemed a protected photographic work if it has no creative or artistic content. In some cases, the law sets conditions on which the exercise of an author’s rights in the protected work depends. To exercise the right to prohibit others from reproducing a photographic work, it is necessary that the disclosed samples of it bear the photographer’s/author’s name. The registration of works is not a requirement for protection; however, registration may provide evidence regarding the existence of the work and its authorship and ownership as, legally, registration implies the presumption of these facts.

 

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?

The performance of acts that are reserved for the owner via the exclusive author’s rights, by parties that are not authorised, as well as acts that might affect the authenticity and integrity of the protected work, such as its destruction, mutilation, deformation or other amendments and acts jeopardising the paternity of the work, constitute an infringement of the author’s rights. The scope of rights granted to the author comprises the powers to dispose of the work and to enjoy it and use it, as well as the power to authorise third parties to enjoy it and use it. The infringement of an author’s rights might involve civil liability (compensation for damages caused) and criminal liability of infringers, even infringement by negligence. Therefore, those who intend to use a third party’s work must look for information about whether the work is protected, the conditions of use set by the respective author/owner and ascertain if the intended use is a free use. In general, all use of a work with commercial purposes requires authorisation from the author/owner. In addition, in general, no authorisation from the owner is required for private use, as such use is foreseen by the law as free use. In cases of unawareness on the part of those who infringe an author’s rights, there may still be liability — civil and criminal. In the case of criminal liability, a mere fine may be applied instead of the criminal penalty of imprisonment. In the case of civil liability, unawareness of an infringement would be taken into consideration when defining the amount of compensation due for 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.

Depending on the kind of use intended of the protected works/performances, it may be necessary to obtain the consent of the owner of the author’s rights or of the neighbouring rights. For uses that involve commercial exploitation of the protected works, it will be necessary to obtain authorisation from the author/owner, and a licence agreement must be drawn up in writing, specifying the authorised uses (or promotion, or publication), as well as the conditions regarding the duration of the licence, the territory and the cost.

Nowadays, there are some works whose availability on the internet is accompanied by open, ‘Creative Commons’ licences, which are directed at the public in general and specify the types of use allowed and the purposes of the authorised use (commercial/non-commercial), as well as other limitations to the licensed uses. These licences are not paid for, they usually have a worldwide scope and include conditions identified by specific symbols that are already well known to internet users.

There are several uses of protected works that the law provides as free uses, that is to say they do not need to be authorised/licensed by the author/owner of the author’s rights, although, in certain cases, there is a requirement for compensation to the owner. One of those uses is the reproduction of a work for private use (private use/copy). Under the scope of private use, users may make a ‘private copy’ for their own use within the limitations of their reasonable needs for personal and home/family use. In this case, a copy of a film for watching at home with the family and with friends is considered to be private use and, as such, it is a free use of the protected work. Several other uses of protected works (e.g. for educational and scientific research purposes, reproduction or public communication for access by people with disabilities, partial reproduction for teaching purposes, reproduction for broadcasting made by non-profit social institutions, such as hospitals and jails) are also foreseen by the law as free uses. There is also freedom of panorama. Freedom of panorama allows photographers to take photographs of buildings or landmarks and use the photographs as they choose without fear of legal reprisals. In some EU countries, it is illegal to publish photographs of certain monuments without permission.

Other cases of free use are the inclusion of quotations or summaries of a third party’s works, no matter what the genre or nature, if the aim is to support the writer’s own opinions or for the purposes of criticism, discussion or teaching, to a justifiable extent. Beyond these purposes and to an unjustified extension, including quotations and summaries is not free.

Portuguese law provides a list of free uses of works protected by author’s rights and related rights.

 

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?

The mere inclusion of a protected musical work in a home video may be considered a private use and therefore it may not need authorisation from the author’s rights holder. However, it may consist of an incidental inclusion of a work in other material and therefore it may be considered as free use. However, the making available of such a video by uploading it to an internet platform is deemed to be communication/making the work available to the public, which must be authorised by the owner of the musical work, as such communication is an act reserved for the author/owner of the protected work. In the same way, the inclusion of a musical work in a home video may imply the transformation of that musical work by adaptation, which is also an act that needs the authorisation of the author/owner, as this is one of the moral or personal rights belonging to the author for the purpose of safeguarding the work’s integrity.

 

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

The private use of a protected work and the copy/reproduction made for that purpose is a use that is legally foreseen as free. However, the scope of this freedom to use a protected work is not unlimited. The permitted use must be made by a natural person, without direct or indirect commercial purposes, to meet reasonable personal needs or for family use. The exception/justification of private use as a free use emerges from the necessary balance that needs to exist between the protection of an author’s rights and the general needs of communication, and access to information and cultural assets by users. In this context, it would be reasonable for a user to make a copy for his or her personal use, or for that of the family unit. Copies that are not offered under these circumstances may be understood as going beyond the limits or scope of the private use that is permitted by law.

 

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 protected works from the internet is permitted whenever it is made for the private use of a natural person and without direct or indirect commercial purposes, whether the downloading focuses on the work as a whole, or in parts, by any technological means and if the source copy is a copy legally made available on the internet. Downloading works protected by author’s rights under these conditions is considered a free reproduction; therefore the author/owner of the author’s rights cannot forbid it. It is important to remember that the source copy of the download must be a legitimate or legally made available copy, because if this is not the case, then the download made may be ‘tainted’ by the illegality of the source copy and may therefore be forbidden by the author’s rights.

 

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 (TPM) are technical mechanisms or components intended to restrict certain uses of protected works, performances and production in digital format and also to support the control of access to the same (paid access, counting the number and duration of the uses), and to preserve the integrity of protected works by preventing their modification. Such appliances benefit from special protection by the law, as criminal sanctions are foreseen regarding any acts of neutralisation or against the efficiency of the same. These technological protection measures aim mainly to restrict the acts of reproduction of the works protected by author’s rights, but they cannot prevent the free legal uses, because these do not need to be authorised, as in the case of making a copy for private use. However, permitted usage still does not justify the circumvention (neutralisation) of these technological measures for the purpose of making private copies. The legal regime lays down that whenever technological measures applied to a copy of the work impede or prevent the legal making of copies for private use, the user/beneficiary may contact the Inspeção Geral das Atividades Culturais (IGAC) and request the means to circumvent the measures, which must have been deposited there by the owner of the author’s rights.

 

10. What are copyright levies?

Although making a private copy for private use is legal because it is obtained under an exception to the author’s rights, such a copy represents a decrease in the economic compensation to the owners of the author’s rights. In a bid to adjust the balance of interests between the author’s rights and the free uses of artistic and cultural assets, a payment of a levy has been established, to be applied to all recording appliances and devices, that is to say, analogue and digital recording appliances and supports that allow reproduction and storage. The levy is included in the price of the first sale or upon availability in national territory and before the application of VAT. Although this fee is paid by the traders of these devices and appliances if they are not intended for exportation and re-exportation, this levy may have an impact on the selling price to consumers.

 

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

Downloading a protected work intended for private use by a natural person without direct or indirect commercial purposes, as well as temporary copies of protected works, are free uses permitted by the law. The law does not provide a specific or special regulation for ‘streaming’. This way of accessing a work, such as the watching of a film by streaming, involves making a temporary copy of the film,allowing it to be viewed on a computer screen. As such, it may be considered a use that does not reach or affect the normal exploitation of the protected work, or cause prejudice to the legal interests of the author/owner, and therefore it will be considered as private use, permitted by the law as free use, without the need for authorisation from the owner of the author’s rights. It is important to ensure that the source (the stream) is lawful, that is to say, that the provider is the owner of the author’s rights or is duly licensed.

 

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?

Automatic uploading of works protected by author’s rights into personal messages (posts) posted on social network platforms constitutes a communication of the work to the public, and, as such, is an act that infringes the right of communication and promotion of the work to the public, which belongs to the owner of the author’s rights. However, if the work was not uploaded by the holder of the account on the social network, then the account holder is not held responsible for the infringement to the author’s rights.

As a rule, placing links referring/connecting to internet pages containing works or content protected by author’s rights does not constitute a reproduction of their content, or their communication and making them available to the public, therefore such an act is not contrary to such rights, unless the pages to which the links lead host the said works illegally, in which case the intermediaries/providers of the services on the internet may be held liable if the infringement is manifest, or if once having been informed of the infringement they do not remove or block the link.

In contrast, integrating content (embedding) into pages or blogs on the internet, if it involves protected works that have not been disclosed earlier by that means, may be considered a form of communication and disclosure of the work to the public. As this activity takes place without the authorisation of the author or rights owner, it is a use that infringes this right.

 

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?

The total and definitive transfer of author’s rights is subject to a more exigent form than a partial transfer of the rights and the authorisation/licences of use, availability, publication or exploitation of the work. For the total and definitive transfer of the rights, the execution of a public deed is mandatory legally, and a partial transfer should be made in a written deed with the certified signatures of all parties. Non-fulfilment of these formal requirements implies the nullity of the transfer or licence agreements of the author’s rights. For the authorisation/licence for mere exploitation of the work, the law only requires that the contracts be in writing.

If the law applicable to author’s rights is Portuguese law, under the formal, legal requirements for transfer contracts, the terms of the transfers of the rights proposed in the cases of uploading works to internet pages will be considered as simple authorisations for exploitation and use of the work (and/or reproduction, publication, disclosure, etc.) The effect of these exploitation authorisations/licences will not deprive the owner of the author’s rights of his or her rights of exploitation in the works. The protection granted by Portuguese law includes the moral or personal rights of the author of the work, which are not transferable, but are inalienable and imprescriptible rights and therefore, any contract that implies the contrary will be null and void.

However, the terms of the declarations and proposed online agreements that make reference to the transfer of an author’s rights should be analysed considering the national law applicable to the proposed contract, as such agreements may not be subject to Portuguese law which, precisely to protect the weakest party in contracts regarding author’s rights (usually the author/creator, who may not have the means to exploit the work personally), determines more demanding forms for the contracts.

 

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?

The adaptation of an avatar based on a film star, a cartoon character or the symbol of a sports club for identification in certain contexts on the internet, such as social networks and digital games, does not represent, as a rule, a commercial use of the protected work, trade mark or design. The avatar will be considered a symbol of personal reference for non-commercial purposes. However, if an avatar is given a use linked to commercial exploitation, then that situation may imply the infringement of personal rights regarding the characters and of a registered trade mark or a registered design. The use of an avatar that may offend, discredit or misrepresent the protected ‘figures’ in the same should not be used, as such use may also involve an offence to the protected rights over the ‘figures’ represented in the avatar.

 

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

Distinguishing lawful content from unlawful content made available for downloading on the internet is not usually an easy task, as it is not always obvious. An unlawful copy will not be identified as such, therefore users should be reasonably attentive and careful when they intend to download a lawful copy of a work that is available on the internet; this care is advisable because the use made of a downloaded copy may or may not be a free reproduction or a free use, depending on the legitimacy of the source copy. The legality of a downloaded copy is important because it conditions the freedom of use/private copying of a work protected by author’s rights, even when it is for non-commercial purposes. Therefore, the legality of the source copy of the download is a condition of the freedom of private use/private copy. The precaution and diligence of the end-user are evaluated in cases of claims of infringement by the owners of the author’s rights, which, in a criminal assessment, might still be qualified as negligence.

Nevertheless, since searching for legal content online can be difficult the portal allows users to search for music, film and television, e-books, video games and sports events, providing fast and easy access to legal offers online.

 

 

 

Back to Top

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.

We use cookies on our website to support technical features that enhance your user experience. We also use analytics. Click for more information