Can I use other people’s texts, music or photographs?

You are permitted to make copies of other people’s texts, music and photographs provided that they derive from a legal source. The copies must be for your own use. It is not permissible, however, to distribute or publish such copies.

Private copy levy

You are permitted to make a copy of a CD or DVD, for instance, provided it is only for your own personal use. Manufacturers and importers pay a special private copy levy as a tax on such personal copies. This tax is passed on to consumers in the retail price.

The private copy levy is intended to benefit writers/authors, performers, and producers.

Downloading from illegal sources is prohibited

It is prohibited to download items protected by copyright from illegal sources. This applies even if a work is downloaded only for personal use. Most illegal sources are illegal websites. Since it is prohibited to make copies from an illegal source, the private copy levy does not apply to such copies.

Copy protection

Authors are entitled to add copy protection to their work. This is a form of protection that prevents others from copying an item such as a CD or DVD. An item that is protected in this way may not be copied, even for private use.

The copying of computer programs

The regulations governing private copies do not apply to computer programs that are protected by copyright, such as software and games. This means that it is illegal to simply copy a computer program.

Does your computer use a copy of a computer program? This is permissible provided you purchased the original program or obtained it by other lawful means. In this case, the program has been paid for. It is also lawful to make a back-up copy.

Open source software

Open source software is software whose source code is freely accessible. Anyone can access and modify the source code. You acquire the source code when you purchase the software or when the code is disseminated on the internet.

Most commercial software is closed source (i.e. proprietary) software, which is protected by copyright law. Since the source code is not disclosed, neither the user nor any third parties are permitted to make any changes to it.

See also