Authors and copyright protection

1. How do I obtain copyright protection for my work? 

Copyright is established automatically as the work is being created. Unlike patent right, copyright does not need to be applied for, there is no need for filling out forms or for registering anything. 

2. Is display of the copyright notice (©) obligatory for copyright protection of my work? 

No, display of the copyright notice (©) is not obligatory. 

3. Is my work copyright-protected once an ISBN has been issued? 

An ISBN is a unique international ordering code used in the book trade. Mentioning an ISBN in a book has no connection to a book's copyright protection. 

4. Who holds copyright to a work created within the frame of an employment contract? 

If a work has been created within the frame of an employment contract, and an employee has been hired to create a work or has been assigned to create a work, the employer is considered to be the maker and therefore the holder of copyright. 

5. Who holds copyright to a publication? 

Jurisprudence exists stating that when an academic publication is created at a university within the frame of an employment contract (dissertation, scientific article), copyright belongs to the author and not to the employer (university). 

6. Who holds copyright to works made for academic training? 

If educational material is created at a university within the frame of an employment contract, copyright belongs to the employer (university). 

7. Who holds copyright to a work made under direction and supervision of someone else? 

If a work is based on a design by another person, and is made under direction and supervision of that other person, that other person holds copyright. 

8. Who holds copyright to a Master's thesis? 

Jurisprudence exists stating that copyright to a Master's thesis belongs to the graduate. Not therefore to the institution where they graduate or to their supervisor, or, if no other arrangement has been made, to the firm where the graduate has performed their research. If theses are to be based on research performed by the graduate at a firm or office, it is essential to agree beforehand who will be the copyright holder. 

9. Who holds copyright to an article created by a team? 

If separate contributions may be clearly distinguished, each author holds copyright to their contribution. If no such distinction can be made, the authors hold joint copyright to the whole work. 


1. Can copyright be transferred? 

Yes, copyright may be transferred entirely or partially. Transfer must be put in writing. To that end, publishers issue 'copyright transfer forms' or 'copyright transfer agreements' to the authors. If you transfer your copyright to somebody else, that other person obtains authority over further use of your work. You may however attach conditions to the transfer of your rights. 

2. Does transfer of my copyright mean I have no say over my work anymore? 

By transferring your copyright, you transfer the right to make use (i.e. publish and multiply) your work in the future. But as author you always retain your moral rights in relation to your work. You may object to somebody changing your work's title, or to someone pretending that you were not the maker. You may also object if you believe your work has been distorted, e.g., through a poor translation or the placement of your text in an inadequate context. 

3. Should I transfer the copyright to my article if I wish to have it published by an academic publisher? 

No, full copyright transfer is not necessary to have an article published by a publisher. You may also grant a license stipulating transfer of certain rights while retaining others. However, most of the time, publishers are not open to negotiating standard publishing agreement terms and conditions.  

4. May I include an article I published earlier in my dissertation as a chapter? 

You may if you are still a copyright holder. If you are not, you will have to obtain permission from the copyright holder. This will usually be the journal publisher. Some publishers explicitly permit authors to (re)use their articles in PhD theses, even if they have transferred their copyright to the publisher. If this is so, it is stated in the publishing agreement you signed. 

5. May I publish a chapter from my dissertation later in the form of an article? 

You may if you are still a copyright holder. Beware, however, that some journals stipulate an embargo on their articles. This means that prior to publication of the article in the journal, no attention may be paid to the (subject of the) article. 

6. Can I publish my dissertation as a monograph by a commercial publisher after having placed the digital version in the TU/e repository? 

Yes, you may. After all, you still hold the copyright to your dissertation. The commercial publisher however must approve of your prior digital publication on your own website or that of your institution. You can also apply for embargo on you PhD thesis. 

7. Does the firm where I have performed my final or doctoral research have the right to publish my master's thesis or dissertation? 

If you haven't made any specific arrangement, the right of publication remains with you as author. 
Dissertations and Masters' theses may hold information that requires confidentiality, e.g., if corporate interests could be jeopardized or in view of a patent application. It is therefore important to make the necessary arrangements with the firm before you commence your research. 

Using someone else's work 

1. When may I use (publish or multiply) work by others without requesting permission? 

For a researcher or teacher the cases listed below in which you may (partly) use work produced by others without requiring permission, are relevant: 
1. You may make a digital or paper copy of a work (multiplication) if it is meant for personal use or study. 
2. You may cite brief passages or images from works produced by others (publicize) in your own work. The citation must however be relevant, and source and name of the author must be mentioned. 
3. You may use parts of a work in your teaching. Here, too, clear acknowledgment of the source is required. A fee for using another's text must be paid. Check reader regulations for more information. 
4. 'Bare' legal text and other government information is free from copyright. You may therefore use these in your work without permission. 

2. Where do I find information on reader regulations? 

For information on use of (parts of a) work for your lectures, see TU/e webpage on reader rights

3. May I hyperlink to copyright-protected work on my website or in a digital learning environment for my subject? 

Yes, hyperlinking is permitted. 

4. May I scan a printed article by someone else and store it on my computer? 

Yes, you may scan an article by someone else and store it on your computer if it is for personal study. 

5. May I scan a printed article by someone else and send it to a colleague via e-mail? 

No. You may scan an article by someone else and store it on your computer as described above, but you may not pass it on to a colleague via e-mail. 

6. May a library scan a printed article and send it to someone else via e-mail? 

Yes, a library may scan a printed article and send it to someone else via e-mail, provided that person uses it for personal study or exercise. 

7. May a library place a digital master's thesis by a student in its repository, thus making the thesis available to everybody via the Internet? 

Yes, provided that the library has permission from the holder of copyright. If the student has not made any specific agreement, he/she is holder of copyright.