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Intellectual property is a creation of the human intellect and protected by law. The Government of the Republic of Estonia has passed most of the international IP (Intellectual property) treaties. 

Intellectual property includes copyright and its accompanying rights, inventions, industrial design, trademarks, geographical indications, trade secrets, plant breeders’ rights, domain names, appellations, integrated circuit layout design, and unfair competition. 

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that grants the authors of literature, art, music, and scientific work the right to forbid others to use their creative work without permission.  In general, other people can only use a creative work with the author’s permission. 

Copyright is applied to an author’s original creative work that is tangible, expressed in an objective form or manner, and can be reproduced either directly or via some technical means. No official registration or other procedures are required for the work to become eligible for copyright. Copyright applies to both unpublished and published (for the general public) works. For other types of IP, official registration of the creative work is required to become eligible for protection by law. 

Copyright only protects the form of the creation; it does not cover ideas and the actual content of the work. Therefore, copyright protects the manner in which the creation is expressed, not what is expressed. Originality and creativity during the process of creation are important criteria to qualify for copyright. 

After creating the work, the author has moral rights and economic rights, which constitute the content of copyright. The creator of the work or the person to whom the rights have been transferred to through either assignment or licencing has a right to use the work in any way and can allow or prevent the use of the work by third parties. These rights may only be limited in the cases specified in the Copyright Act. 

Works in which copyright subsists (list from the Copyright Act): 
- written works in the fields of fiction, non-fiction, politics, education, etc.; 
- scientific works or works of popular science, either written or three-dimensional (monographs, articles, reports on scientific research, plans, schemes, models, tests, etc.);
- computer programs that shall be protected as literary works. Protection applies to the expression in any form of a computer program;
- speeches, lectures, addresses and other oral works;
- architectural graphics (drafts, drawings, plans, projects etc.), letters of explanation and additional texts and programs explaining the contents of a project; 
- photographic works and works expressed by a process analogous to photography, slides and slide films; 
- cartographic works (topographic, geographic, geological, etc. maps, atlases, models); 
- draft legislation;
- standards and draft standards;
- opinions, reviews, expert opinions, etc.; 
- derivative works, i.e. translations, adaptations of original works, modifications (arrangements) and other alterations of works; 
- collections of works and information (including databases).

For the purposes of this Act, “database” means a collection of independent works, data or other economics arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means. The definition of database does not cover computer programs used in the making or operation thereof. In accordance with this Act, databases which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute the author’s own intellectual creation shall be protected as such by copyright and no other criteria are applied. The rights of database creators are listed in chapter “Rights of Makers of Databases” of the Copyright Act. 

The Copyright Act does not apply to: 
- ideas, images, notions, theories, processes, systems, methods, concepts, principles, discoveries, inventions, and other results of intellectual activities which are described, explained or expressed in any other manner in a work;
- legislation and administrative documents (acts, decrees, regulations, statutes, instructions, directives) and official translations thereof; 
- court decisions and official translations thereof; 
- news of the day; 
- facts and data; 
- ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, including those which underlie its user interfaces. 

Moral rights of the creator are inseparable from the author’s person and non-transferable. Moral rights include the right of authorship and the right of author’s name; right of protection of the author’s honour and reputation; right of integrity of the work; right of additions to the work; right of disclosure of the work; right to withdraw the work; right to request that the author’s name be removed from the work which is being used. The authorship, author’s name and their honour and reputation are protected for and unspecified term. 

Economic rights of the author give the right owner exclusive rights to use the work in any way, to authorise or prohibit the use of the work in similar manner by other persons, and to receive income from such use of the author’s work.  

The author’s rights include the right to authorise or prohibit reproduction of the work or copies thereof; distribution right; right of translation of the work; right of alteration of the work; rights of exhibition and communication of the work, meaning presentation of the work either directly or by any technical device or process. 

§ 32 of the Copyright Act states that the author of a work created under an employment contract or in the public service in the execution of his or her direct duties shall enjoy copyright in the work but the economic rights of the author to use the work for the purpose and to the extent prescribed by the duties shall be transferred to the employer unless otherwise prescribed by contract. 

Use of works

Reproduction in copies for private use and reporting and citing a creative work for scientific purposes is allowed without the permission of the copyright owner. Providing a correct reference when using works by other authors is required. 

Therefore, it is necessary that the work has a copyright notice and information about the copyright owner(s), so that it is clear who to contact when there are issues regarding the use of the work. The symbol © (all rights reserved) has been used more than hundred years to indicate a work’s copyright status. Every institution, author, publication house has a right to create their own licence that states the rights of use. 

To facilitate open access mechanism, international standard licences that function within the legal copyright framework and state the conditions for using a creative work have been used (e.g. Creative Commons, Open Data Commons and other licences, the licence depends on the specific object that is being licenced). 


Reproduction and translation of the work for personal use 

A work may be reproduced and translated by a natural person for the purposes of personal use without the authorisation of its author and without payment of remuneration on the condition that such activities are not carried out for commercial purposes.  

Without the authorisation of the author and without payment of remuneration, it is prohibited to reproduce for the personal use the following: works of architecture and landscape architecture, works of visual art of limited edition, electronic databases, computer programs (except the cases prescribed in §§ 24 and 25 of this Act), notes in reprographic form. 


Free use of works for scientific, educational, informational and judical purposes 

§ 19 prescribes that the following is permitted without the authorisation of the author and without payment of remuneration if mention is made of the name of the author of the work, if it appears thereon, the name of the work and the source publication: 
- making summaries of and quotations from a work, provided that its extent does not exceed that justified by the purpose and the idea of the work as a whole is conveyed correctly; 
- use of a work for the purpose of illustration for teaching and scientific research to the extent justified by the purpose and on the condition that such use is not carried out for commercial purposes; 
- reproduction of a work for the purpose of teaching or scientific research to the extent justified by the purpose in educational and research institutions whose activities are not carried out for commercial purposes; 
- processing the object of copyright for the purpose of text- and data mining for non-commercial purposes. 

The use of copyrighted work by other persons is authorised only when the rights are transferred (assignment) or when the author has authorised it (licensing), except in the cases of free use prescribed in the Copyright Act. 

The author’s economic rights are transferable as single rights or a set of rights for a charge or free of charge. The transfer of the author’s economic rights by him or her or the grant of an authorisation to use a work may be limited with regard to certain rights and to the purpose, term, territory, extent, manner and means of using the work.  

The author may authorise, i.e. licence, other persons to use all their personal rights. The copyright owner is called licensor and the copyright user is called licencee. 

There are three types of licences: non-exclusive licence, exclusive licence, sublicence under patent. 

In case of non-exclusive licence only the person who has been granted the rights by the licensor may use the work. The author has no right to use the work. Sublicence grants the licencee a right to authorise a third person to use the work, but only with the prior consent of the author. 

Creative Commons (CC) licenses have been used for several years to simplify using the works that have already been published. CC licenses have been modified to fit Estonian jurisdiction. CC licenses are suitable to use in case of scientific publications as well as for other creative works (photographs, study material, slides, etc.). The latest version (4.0) can also be used to license databases protected by copyright. For more information, see Frequently asked questions about data and CC licenses.

CC licenses enable the author to transfer some of their rights and set terms of use to their work. CC licenses are easy to understand, and their machine-readable code makes them easy to use with different systems. 

Six main types of license, plus the public domain waiver, have been produced on four types of conditions: 
(CC BY) - attribution  
(CC BY-SA) - Attribution + ShareAalike 
(CC BY-ND) - Attribution + NoDerivatives 
(CC BY-NC) - Attribution + Noncommercial  
(CC BY-NC-SA) - Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike 
(CC BY-NC-ND) - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 

Public domain waiver 
CC0 (CC Zero) - The author or the database rights holder gives up all rights and frees the content globally without restrictions 
Public Domain Mark labels works that are already in the public domain. These include works that are free of known copyright or whose copyright protection has ended. No-one owns the works in public domain or controls how they are used. 

License conditions can be chosen on the Creative Commons licensing page. After choosing the license, the HTML code can be implemented on the sire where the material is published. The author cannot remove the CC license from a work retroactively, but new versions or derivatives of the work can be licensed differently from the original. 

Suggestions how to refer to CC license and study material can be found on HITSA web page

Sources of Law

Copyright in Estonia are regulated by the Copyright Act. The term of copyright in Estonia is generally the life of the author and 70 years after their death. After the protection of copyright has expired, everyone can use a work for free and without the author’s permission. However, this does not remove authorship and providing a correct reference when using works by other authors is still required. 

Violation of copyright includes the violation of the author’s moral or economic rights.  

Using a copyrighted work without the right holder’s permission or contrary to the extent necessary for the free use is considered a violation of copyright (this includes reproduction, translation, modification, exhibition, making available to the public, distribution, and communication to the public). The copyright violation types are plagiarism, piracy, and peer-to-peer (P2P) file exchange. The authors may enforce their rights by criminal- or civil procedure. 



Autoriõiguse seadus. (2017) Riigi Teataja 

Creative Commons litsentsid 3.0 Eesti. (2010) Eesti Infotehnoloogia Sihtasutus. 

Intellektuaalomandi õppematerjal. (2016) Eesti Intellektuaalomandi ja Tehnoloogiasiirde Keskus 

Kelli, A; Mets, T; Burenkov, M. (2012) Autoriõiguse ning avatud juurdepääsu (Open Access) küsimused teadus- ja arendustegevuses