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  • 3.1 The Copyright of Work Produced by Researchers and Teachers
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Andrew Paterson, researcher and teacher in Media Lab is exploring issues of copyright based in relation to audio-visual commons and free culture with his work Clip Kino.
The organisational format and outcome materials are released under a Creative Commons license.
Photo (right): Tara Pattenden


One could justify the researcher and teacher's right to self determination based on the freedom of science and the values behind copyright, which are, at their broadest, in connection with a university's basic function and the independent research of the researcher and teacher. In this case, a high degree of self-determination is a pre-requisite of a university's statutory duties, with the freedom of science strongly influential as a background principle. In independent, i.e. open, research, the researcher and teacher determine the use of their studies and publications and can license them, that is, they grant limited rights of use with terms that they find fair. The author's rights can be seen as a starting point for copyright.

Articles in publications and PhD-thesis

When the researcher owns the copyright to his / her scientific article, it is the researcher who signs the copyright agreement with the publisher of a scientific publication. If later this article is to be used as a part of a PhD-thesis, a letter like the one below has been used to obtain permission from the original publisher, in case the publishing agreement has transferred the rights to the publisher.

Dear  xxxe,

In Finland a PhD-thesis most often consists of an overview (about 30-50 pages long) and several articles published in scientific journals (at the U University usually six articles).

In my PhD-thesis the article published by P  is:


I am cordially requesting your permission to include the article (above) in the printed version (about xx prints) of my thesis and also exhibit them in the internet as PDF-files on the www-page of our university library (www. xxxx) and store them on the university server as part of my electronic thesis. I want to emphasize that the U University dissertation series does not have commercial purposes.

Please find below my contact information. I remain looking forward to your favourable reply which would enable me to comply with my university’s requirements for receiving a PhD degree.

Yours sincerely


Contact information:

  U University  Finland


Rights of the University / Transferring Rights to the University

Rights under the Copyright Act may, in certain situations arise directly to the university (university as a legal entity). The university may receive the protection of phonogram producers under § 46 [1], movie producers under § 46a [2], or list and database producers under § 49, of the Copyright Act [3]. In this case, the university can exploit these rights in the manner described in the Copyright Act. However, the university can never be the author  under § 1 of the Copyright Act, i.e. the author can only be a natural person. [4]

Rights may be transferred to the university for material produced by researchers and teachers via express or silent agreement. The practice may vary from university to university. 


External funding projects

In addition to their basic function, universities are involved in co-operative projects, where financing has been arranged externally. The breadth of co-operation projects may vary from a one company cooperation project to multinational cooperation projects, which include comprehensive contractual obligations.

The physical work of researchers, without its associated copyright and other intellectual property rights, can be worthless. The transition of the results of a research project to the parties or to organizations outside of the project will be agreed upon in a contract.

Co-operation agreements commit the university  to assign the copyright to a third party. Parties in a project usually gain the right of use to project results.   In order to fulfill its contractual obligations towards the financier, the university must obtain the rights defined in the co-operation agreement from individual researchers and project workers.

Notes and References

[1] Copyright Act, § 46

[2] Copyright Act, § 46a

[3] Copyright Act, § 49

[4] Copyright Act, § 1