Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
University of Groningen Library
University of Groningen Library Publish Copyright Information Point

Copyright – the basics

Infographic copyright - the basics

In the field of academic research, students, researchers, and lecturers have to deal with copyright. On this page, you will find general information about copyright that is of interest to everyone.

What is copyright?

Copyright is the exclusive right held by the creator of a work (be it in literature, science, or art) to publish and reproduce that work. Copyright arises automatically from the moment that the creator creates the work. The creator does not need to apply for or register anything to this end (Article 1 of the Copyright Act).

What is een work?

A work is any literary, scientific, or artistic creative product expressed by whatever means or in whatever form. This can be a book, an article, an image, a film, music, a photograph, a computer program, etc. Almost every publication is protected by copyright, provided that the work is original, the result of creative choices, and bears the personal stamp of its creator.

There are also specific works that lie outside the scope of copyright law, such as laws, ordinances and court decisions and orders (see ‘Works not subject to copyright’).

Publication and reproduction

Examples of publication, or making public, are: publishing, uploading, showing, playing, etc.

Examples of reproduction are: copying, scanning, downloading, saving, etc.

Who owns the copyright?

According to the Copyright Act, the person who created a work is generally the copyright owner. If several people have made an original contribution to the creation of a work, all the creators are jointly entitled to it. An exception to this is when the work is created under management and supervision (on the basis of which the person in charge holds the copyright). Of course it is always wise to make agreements beforehand about the copyright of a joint work.

This does not apply the work is created under direction and supervision (on the basis of which the person in charge holds the copyright). Of course it is always prudent to make agreements beforehand about the copyright of a joint work.

Copyright can be (partially) transferred by the creator or creators, for example to a publisher. Publishers often ask authors to relinquish and transfer the exploitation rights in a work. However, this is not necessary.

Also see:

Employer’s copyright

Where a work is created by a creator under an employment contract, the copyright generally belongs to the employer, according to copyright law. This means that the University of Groningen can be regarded as the copyright holder.

  • Researchers
    In practice, University of Groningen authors are in principle regarded as copyright holders. They may make decisions about their own publications as though they were the copyright holders, for example in contracts with publishers or when deciding to share a publication under a particular license, such as a Creative Commons-licentie.

  • Lecturers
    When it comes to educational material, the University of Groningen is the copyright holder.

How do I recognize copyrighted material?

In general, you should bear in mind that anything online, such as a book, a blog post, a photograph, a lecture, or a magazine article, has a creative aspect to it and is copyrighted unless the works are in the public domain. If you find something on the internet, such as via Google, Wikipedia, or the UG search engine, this does not automatically mean that this material is free to use. It may be copyrighted.

Copyright may be indicated by the © symbol or by the statement ‘all rights reserved’. However, these copyright notices are not present in every copyrighted work.  

In some cases, a work may be made available under an open license. This license often states what you are allowed to do with the work. Works with, for example, a CC license are still protected by copyright but may be reproduced and made available under the CC conditions.

What can I do with a copyrighted work?

You need permission from the copyright owner to use a copyrighted work.

There are some exceptions to this, provided, of course, that you cite the source. For example, you may make a copy without permission for your own study or for non-commercial use. Such private copies may not be shared with third parties (colleagues and/or fellow students). Copyrighted computer programs (such as software and games) and digital databases are not covered by this rule. You may only make copies of these with the permission of the copyright owner.

You may also quote or paraphrase from someone else’s work without permission. You do need to cite the source.  A quote is literally a copy of a small part of text. Paraphrasing represents the meaning of the source text in your own words. You may not change the scope of the work. In addition, a quote or paraphrase must support the content of your work and be proportionate to its aims. This applies to both text and images. Quoting to embellish your work is therefore not allowed. These conditions apply to PowerPoint presentations, videos, and other works, just as they do to texts.

Incidentally, you may always link to online material that is freely available on the internet (provided that the material has been lawfully made public).

Cite the source

When you use or reuse a work belonging to another, you must always cite the source. Good citation ensures that works are traceable. The way that sources are cited depends on the field of study or education.

See: Zie: How do I cite the source correctly?

Works not subject to copyright

Laws, decrees, ordinances, court decisions, and administrative decisions are in the public domain. Such works are not copyrighted and may therefore be freely reproduced. Parliamentary documents, the minutes of city council meetings, or reports from government departments that have been created and made public by the government itself may also be freely reproduced in their entirety, unless they are subject to copyright.

Academic integrity also requires the acknowledgment of a source when the publication is in the public domain.

Database law

Database law, like copyright, is an intellectual property right. Whether a database is protected or not depends on whether the database is the result of a significant investment, meaning that funds, time, and effort have been invested in it. In such cases, it is not permitted to copy or retrieve large parts of a database without permission. The creator of a database has the exclusive right to exploit it.

Quick tips from our experts

Key points
  • Always provide a reference to the source, also when it concerns your own work.

  • On Brightspace, you may link to materials that are freely and legally available on the internet and/or to materials that the University Library has a license for. Uploading the pdf to Brightspace is not allowed.
    See: How to create a reliable link

  • In Persuall/FeedbackFruits, pdfs are allowed under certain conditions, but an annual copyright check is mandatory.

  • Wherever possible, use Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Access material, for example with a Creative Commons license.
    More information

  • Is linking not an option and will the material therefore be incorporated into a reader? Then a copyright check will need to be done first. In the case of readers, according to the ‘Easy Access’ agreement you may use a maximum of 40 pages from a book or journal issue with a maximum of 20% of the entire work. For more information on compiling a reader, please contact the reader administrator for your faculty.


If you have any questions or would like to know more, please contact the Copyright Information Point at copyright UMCG staff may contact auteursrecht

Last modified:13 February 2024 2.39 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands