Copyright: my rights as an author

As the author of a work, you're the copyright holder. Sometimes, however, you transfer your copyright (the economic rights) to a third party, who becomes the copyright holder in turn. If someone wants to reuse (part of) your work, the copyright holder of your work must grant permission for this. Similarly, this also applies to you if you want to reuse the work of another person. 

However, there are exceptions to this legislation that do allow reuse without explicit permission, for example within the framework of education and research. In Belgium, educational and research organisations compensate for this exception by paying the reprography fee.

Be sure to read the basic rules of Belgian copyright law to get a general picture.

The following examples illustrate what is and isn't possible.

My publications

I've transferred the copyright of my article to a publisher. Can it still be included in the intranet / the electronic learning environment / in the open or closed repository / in the website of my institution?

Public distribution via the internet:

The copyright holder (you as the author or those to whom you've transferred the copyright) must give permission to include a protected work openly on a website or in a repository.

Most publishers give permission to disseminate a version of a work in an open access repository (at UGent, that's For many publishers you can check the open access policy in the Sherpa Romeo database (remember that in this database the term "self archiving" is used for depositing a version in open access).

Within the intranet of UGent, however, the article can be made available as an illustration for education or research.

Practical example
You've published an article and transferred your copyright to the publisher. The publisher gives permission to make a post-print version of your article available in open access. Then you can upload the Accepted Author Manuscript (AAM - the version after peer review, without the publisher's layout) in Biblio, in open access.

Can I share my published work via my own website or via e-mail?

If you've transferred your copyright to a publisher, you can only share it on your website with the publisher's explicit consent. However, you'e allowed to e-mail it to one recipient.

Can I use (parts of) my articles or publications in my doctoral dissertation?

If you haven't transferred your copyright to a publisher, you can decide what to do with your work. It's perfectly possible to reuse (parts of) your own articles in your dissertation.

If you've transferred your copyright to the publisher and you want to publish your doctoral dissertation, then you must ask permission from the copyright holder, in this case your publisher. If you're not going to publish your doctoral dissertation, you don't have to ask for permission. Either way, you need to cite the original source (i.e. your original publication).

Citing an excerpt of a few lines in your dissertation is always possible without explicitly asking for permission, provided that you cite the source correctly.

Can my employer, Ghent University, use my publications for their own use?

This is possible if you've given permission or if you've transferred your copyright to Ghent University. Check your contract of employment to verify.

There is an exception to this rule: Ghent University is allowed to share your publication without your explicit permission within the internal network (i.e. after login), in the context of education or research, e.g. in Ufora.

My teaching material

Can I reuse my own course material, PowerPoint presentations, learning paths, etc. at another educational institution if/when I no longer work for Ghent University?

You can always reuse the material you've made yourself (and of which you are the copyright holder) at another institution. However, if there are co-authors or co-creators, you need their permission. Reuse is however possible without permission if you can refer to an exception for education and research.


What do I, the author, have to do to receive the reprography fee?

Regardless of whether or not you've transferred your copyright to someone else, you retain the right to receive a reprography fee. To receive it, you need to become a member of a collective management organisation such as VEWA.

Using the work of others

My public website contains a hyperlink to copyright protected content (music, a video, ...). Do I need to pay a fee for copyright or neighbouring rights?

It's possible to link to copyright protected content made available with the permission of the copyright holder. The same is true for framed links. However, if copyright protected content was placed online without the copyright holder's permission, it does count as infringement if you're referring to it for commercial purposes or if you know (or should have known) the content was made available illegally.

Can I use a figure, table, excerpt of a text, ... in my work? Under which conditions can I do this?

Yes, you can in the context of education or scientific research. You also have to cite the original source.

I'm the supervisor of a master's student. Do I need the student's permission to write an article about a subject they've contributed to? Or do they need my permission if it's the other way around?

You don't need their permission. Copyright protects the concrete form, not the idea. While the student's text is protected by copyright, their ideas are not. What you can't do, is use (parts of) the student's text without their permission. The student is also allowed to write an article without your permission. This doesn't apply if it was agreed not to publish (yet) about this subject.

Open Access

If you publish in open access journals, you retain the copyright on your own work and you grant everyone, including the publisher, permission for certain use of the work making use of Creative Commons licences.

Source reference

Wetboek van economisch recht, boek XI Intellectuele eigendom, Titel 5 - Auteursrecht en naburige rechten, HOOFDSTUK 2. – Auteursrecht - Art. XI.191/1

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Last modified July 1, 2022, 6:12 p.m.