Topic 1 The main copyright and licenses systems

Licenses are permissions given by the copyright holder for their content. Licenses can be applied to copyrighted material in order to give permission for certain uses of the material. Copyright is still held by the creator in these cases, but the creator has decided to allow others to use their work. Sometimes licenses are purchased and sometimes they are given freely by the creator. Licenses can be applied to allow reuse, redistribution, derivative works, and commercial use.


The digital environment is facilitating copyright licensing by different means, including by helping to rapidly locate and identify licensors and licensees, providing virtual platforms for exchange and automating contracts, payments, and the delivery of goods and services.


Virtually without exception, in all countries, copyrights are creatures of legislation. As a general matter, copyright subsists in “original” works of authorship as soon as the work is fixed in some tangible medium of expression.

Copyright And Licensing

When we create something — let’s say a photograph — we own the copyright, which is our exclusive right as the author to own that work. We control who else can use our work and in what manner. For example, I could allow someone to print my photograph or adapt it in a piece of art. Rather than establishing verbal agreements, I can distribute my work with a license that sets the guidelines for use. The things that are copyrighted are sometimes referred to as “intellectual property.”

What Is “Fair Use”

“Fair use” is an exception to the exclusive rights held by the copyright owner. It exists in some countries such as the US and UK. Under it, in certain cases, using work without permission is possible. If someone’s usage is defined as fair use, then they don’t need to obtain a license.

What Is “Public Domain”

Work that falls in the “public domain” basically has no copyright owner. You can use, modify and redistribute it to your heart’s content. An author can forfeit their copyright and, thus, put their work in the public domain.

License Terminology

Some common terminology:

Copy” A simple copy of the original work.

Modify” To alter copyrighted work in some way before using it.

Derivative work” The result of modifying copyrighted work to produce new work.

Distribute” The act of giving someone your work under a license.

Redistribute” The act of distributing work and its license after obtaining it under license from the original copyright owner.

Share alike” Permission to distribute derivative work under the same or a similar license.

Credit” or “attribution” The act of identifying the original copyright owner.

Copyright notice” A written phrase or symbol (©) informing of copyright ownership (not necessarily required by law).

All rights reserved” A common copyright notice declaring that no usage rights exist (again, not necessarily required).

Warranty” A written guarantee included with the license (or, usually, not).


Creative Commons is the most frequently used and accessible free licensing scheme. Creative Commons licenses are applied by the copyright owner to their own works.

Have you ever created your own original content? Have you shared it under any copyright license?

EUIPO is the European Union Intellectual Property Office responsible for managing the EU trade mark and the registered Community design. They also work with the IP offices of the EU Member States and international partners to offer a similar registration experience for trade marks and designs across Europe and the world.


AGORATEKA, the European online content portal

an-European portal of the EUIPO, created through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights. It allows you to search through national-level portals that link to sites for music, film & television, e-books, video games and sports events

Watch the following video:

AGORATEKA, the European online content portal

IP Teaching Kit

This IP Teaching Kit contains an extensive set of freely accessible teaching materials, developed by IP professionals from the EPO and EUIPO, and through strong cooperation and mutual support between the management and staff of the two organisations. It is one of the most comprehensive IP teaching resources in the world, and is available through the EUIPO Academy Learning Portal.


The WIPO Guide provides a practical overview of licensing of copyright and related rights in a global marketplace, for literary, musical, graphic and pictorial works, motion pictures, multimedia entertainment and education products and computer software.

WIPO Guide on the Licensing of Copyright and Related Rights


Watch this video to get a clear understanding about copyright.

Study Help: Understanding Copyright

Real case scenario

You are teaching a group of adults and during your learning activities you are using books, articles, software and other resources.

You start a discussion with the adult learners about intellectual property and licenses. You encourage them to search the resources used in the learning process for their licenses of usage.

You assign them a task of creating some content using those resources by taking under consideration the licenses of the material that they used. Help them understand how to reference sources and attribute licenses.

Content creation is closely bound with intellectual property and licensing. When using content in any format (physical or digital) we must know the license under which the content is distributed so that we are aware of possible limitations.