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Copyright in the digital era: Regulations on circulation

Identifying the conditions of use of copyrighted works in a thesis published online

Image circulation

In the case of images, be they still or animated, it is particularly important to obtain authorization to include them in the thesis. Several people may claim a copyright:

  • The photographer
  • The author of a work of art, even if it is located in a public space. It may be the work of: an architect, a painter, a designer, a sculptor… the author’s authorization is necessary when their work is the main subject of the photo.

But other rights come into play:

  • The right to the image: Any person may stop their image being used. Based on article 9 of the French Civil Code regarding privacy policy, any person, famous or unknown, may oppose to the diffusion of any image representing them in their private life.
  • Work owner’s right:
    • Right on architecture image:Photographing the frontage of a building from the street does not require its owner’s authorization, for although they own the building, they have not created it.However the owner may oppose the exploitation of the image of their property if it is causing them unreasonable inconvenience.

DADVSI and measures for technical protection

As a reaction to numerous attempts at illegal downloading, the DADVSI law (authors’ rights and related rights in the information society) created a technical measure regulating body whose main mission is to control user access to information (private copy) while maintaining the interoperability of all systems and supports implemented by cultural industries and manufacturers.

Technical protection measures include:

  • Printing authorizations (or not) of documents.
  • The possibility, or not, to select a document to copy it.
  • A limited time allowance to consult a document.

This administrative body is designed to contend with counterfeiting and to facilitate the circulation of digital content productions including through Digital Right Management (DRM).

Widely unused in universities, DRM allows, amongst other things, to:

  • Identify the author of a digital document.
  • Identify the content of a digital document.
  • Monitor the way the digital work is used (traceability). For instance, one may find out how many times an electronic book has been borrowed or how many times a work was copied after having been bought online.

The Creatives Commons

Other alternatives exist for wider and easier circulation: the Creative Commons licences.

A product of free software, C.C. licences apply to any type of copyrighted work.

They are essentially aimed at allowing the author to authorise free use of their creations while respecting their moral right.

There are 6 types of licences for the author to choose from according to their publication objective.