Copyright and licenses

A license is a permit of use that you, as the holder of the right regarding a work, database or other copyright material, may grant to others.

Under the provisions on citation right issued in the Copyright Act, direct citations from a work and references to the author are permitted in the relevant context and in accordance with the academic citation conventions of individual disciplines, as long as the original author and source are also mentioned. However, a license allows you to grant more extensive re-use rights for open access material or, if required, impose specific conditions to restrict re-use or editing.

The most commonly used open access license system is called Creative Commons (CC).

A CC-license includes a global, irrevocable right to redistribute and edit the material. By imposing additional conditions, authors can restrict these rights as they see fit. The license can later be made more permissive, but it is usually not possible to make it stricter.

There are six different Creative Commons license types:

CC BY: This license allows to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator and all changes must be indicated. The license allows for commercial use.

CC BY-SA: This license allows to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.

CC BY-NC: This license allows to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

CC BY-ND: This license allows to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. 

CC0 (CC Zero): CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.

Teaching and research

Teaching guidelines site provides information about teachers’ copyrights, including related agreements and the openness and reuse of teaching materials. Researchers services provides information on research ethics and ethical guidelines.

Theses and dissertations

Theses and dissertations are independent works according the Finnish Copyrigt Act. To publish a theses or dissertation, university needs author´s permission. According to the guidelines given by the Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education (28.1.2004, Dn 3/500/2004), the university must take care that a dissertations or a theses don´t include any confidental or sensitive material.

All master’s theses and equivalent theses completed at the University of Helsinki must be submitted in digital format to E-thesis. E-thesis is a digital system for the submission, assessment and archiving of theses and dissertations. It also feeds theses into the University of Helsinki’s open publication repository (Helda). Instructions for students site you find more information on E-thesis and how to submit your theses or dissertation to the digital system.

Theses and dissertations saved in the system are automatically sent for analysis to the Urkund system to identify possible plagiarism. See also: What is cheating and plagiarism?

CC license the terms of use for open materials. With CC BY license the author doesn’t give up all his or her rights, but clearly states on what terms the further use of the work is permitted. The original author still holds the copyright.

By choosing a CC BY 4.0 license you give permission to share and adapt your work freely, e.g. users are allowed to translate your text and that translation can be shared publicly.

You must always be mentioned as the original author and all the changes to the original work have to indicated clearly. There also has to be a link or a reference to the original work and license text.

The whole work doesn’t have to shared with the same license, e.g. you can give a different license for text and images. This has to be indicated clearly together with the work.

CC BY license allows the images to be freely modified and shared, e.g. the images can be cropped. If you want your image to be shared as it is and not to be modified in any way, choose CC BY-ND -license.  

Citing images is permitted (Copyright Act 22§) if it isn’t expressly prohibited. The use of the image has to have a clear link with the subject matter.  

In the following guides it is extensively explained how CC licenses and copyright are to observed when publishing or reusing images:

Re­spect­ing (other people’s) copy­right  

In joint works such as teaching materials or joint publications produced together at several organisations it is beneficial to obtain the permission for open publishing from all the copyright holders already at the start of the project.   

When adding material (images, text, videos etc.) created by others into your own work you have to ensure not to violate the rights of the author of the material. When it comes to material not shared with an open license the right to use the material has to be obtained from the copyright holder with a permission that can be documented.  

Good research practice has to be followed in all of the university studies. The appropriate and discipline specific reference practice is learned during the university studies. All kinds of cheating and plagiarism is forbidden. It is described in more detail how cheating and plagiarism are defined in the Instructions for Students.

The Library of Open Educational Resources recommends to use CC BY license (CC BY Attribution 4.0) or CC BY-SA license (CC BY-SA Attribution ShareAlike). Both licenses require that the original author and the educational resource are cited. All the changes that have been made to the work also have to be indicated.   

Users of the material are free to use your teaching material and create their own material based on yours.  The teaching material can be updated even after you yourself no longer update the material.  

CC BY-ND license (CC BY-ND NoDerivatives) is not recommended to be used with open educational resources because it prevents every kind of updating and modifying of the material. The educational resource can’t be translated either or its format cannot be changed.

CC BY-NC license (CC BY-NC NonCommercial license) prevents the use of material for instance in institutions’ paid courses  and paid ongoing trainings. But these licensing conditions can be chosen for educational resources as well.

You can mark the license in many different ways.  In most network services the license can be chosen directly from the publishing platform at the same time as you publish the material. If you need the CC license logo or an embedded code those can be found at the Creative Commons web page

You can find different ways to cite CC licensed material at  the Creative Commons - wiki.

According to the principles of open publishing at the University of Helsinki the reuse of research publications are not to be restricted unnecessarily and the terms of use are to be clearly indicated.

The University recommends for publications the standardised machine readable current version of the CC BY license in the Creative Commons family of licenses. The license recommendation applies to theses as well.

For sharing research data the University of Helsinki recommends the most open forms of licenses. However it is to be noted that when research data is used in science and research the referencing practice is done in accordance with good research practice.

For educational resources CC BY or CC BY-SA licenses are recommended.

The CC BY-NC license (NonCommerial) completely prohibits commercial use and it prevents the sharing of the material in an advertising funded or in a commercial platform or in a paid training.

Most social media services are advertising funded and e.g. and Research Gate are commercial services. A lot of organisations offer paid trainings, such as the open university in Finland and various organisations that offer ongoing training.

For open software MIT- and GNU-GPL-licenses have been developed among others. When sharing and using open material, it is important that if the material contains identifiable persons or if the data is sensitive, the data has to be anonymized before sharing. In some cases it cannot be shared at all. Further information in the Research data management guide.

For sharing research data the University of Helsinki recommends the most open forms of licenses because this makes the further use of research data easier. However, the original author and source should be mentioned whenever possible.

Before you share or reuse data you should find out the rights related to data sharing. The previous versions of Creative Commons licenses (before version 4.0) are not recommended for sharing research data but CC0 license version 1.0 can be used.