Copyright – a way to protect your work

As a student you will need to make use of various sources that are covered by copyright. For example, a person who creates a computer program, takes a photograph or writes an essay is the author of that work. In normal cases the author owns the copyright of the work created.

To secure copyright, which means that the author has the sole right to the use of the work, it is required that the work created has a mark of distinctiveness. This means that the work must have some form of independence or originality. There are no demands on good quality of the work for it to have distinctiveness. An idea, piece of information or facts do not have originality. The regulations on copyright are laid down in the Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (1960:729), the Copyright Act (URL).


  • The Copyright Act gives the author two types of rights: an economic right and a non-profit right.

  • The economic right implies the right to produce copies of the work, make the work available to the public, distribute it for example by selling, leasing or loaning. These rights remain regardless of whether the work is transferred to the internet or any other medium whatsoever. The economic right may be transferred to another person.

    In concrete terms this means that a student’s work for which the student has the copyright may not be made available to the public by selling, leasing, loaning or being used as teaching material without the consent of the student.

  • The non-profit right means that the author must always be named when the work is used, and has a right to oppose the work being exposed to anything that is offensive to the author. The non-profit right, unlike the economic right, may not be transferred.


The Copyright Act permits the copying of only a few pages from a copyrighted work (URL, Chapter 2, Article 12). The Copyright Act makes no distinction between digital and paper copies. Just as it is permitted to copy a few pages from a book for private use, it is also permitted to download a work that is available on the internet, copy from a digital to digital form and/or print out as long as this is done for private use. However, it is never permitted to copy anything from any unlawful source, a pirate copy as it is known.

Copying for private use means copying on your own account, on your own initiative, and that the copy is not spread further. It is never permitted, not even for your own private use, to copy computer programs or databases. Copying beyond what is permitted according to the law constitutes an infringement of the author’s copyright and is a penal offence.