Copyright Act and GDPR

Copyright Act

Copyright in a work is created with the creation of the work (§ 7 of the Copyright Act; Google Translate link). The work may be created in the field of literature, art or science. Copyright must be taken into account when creating a work and when using the works of others.

Have you thought about the following?

The creator of a work has the right to decide how to designate the creator’s name upon use of the work – as the real name, identifying mark, fictitious name (pseudonym) or without a name (anonymously) (right of author’s name); see § 12 of the Copyright Act. If you do not add your name to a work, its later use is very difficult and the work may become an orphan work (§ 272 of the Copyright Act).

References must include the creator, title and source of publication of the work used. In the case of online materials, links can be used for reference, as they lead to a website with the creator’s name, the title and the source of publication. It is best to have references right next to the material used. For example, if you use someone else’s picture in your presentation, the reference is below the picture. If the references are listed at the end of the material, people cannot often find them. There are various referencing styles (eg APA) that are used in research.

Note! See examples of referencing below.

There is a lot of material online that is not ethical to share. Linking has not been added to the Copyright Act, but pursuant to good practice, you should not share unlisted content without the consent of the creator, and it is unethical to share stolen or unlawful content. For example, if there is an unlisted YouTube video, you should not link it on your website because the creator of the video does not want it. You should also take a critical look at who the publisher of the video is. For example, user dog123 does definitely not have the rights to share the movie Home Alone on YouTube.

Every work is subject to copyright and their licences must be taken into account when using them.

If the work does not include a licence, it is subject to all rights under the Copyright Act. Such material may only be used in a closed classroom as illustrative material for educational purposes, to an extent justified by the purpose and with reference to the creator (name, title, source of publication). If you want to publish the material online, you must ask permission from the creator.

Open content licences. There are many such systems and the meaning of each licence varies slightly. Terms of Creative Commons (CC) licences are:

  • BY – Credit must be given to the creator
  • SA – Credit must be given to the creator and adaptations must be shared under the same terms (your work must have the same licence)
  • ND – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted
  • NC – Only non-commercial uses of the work are permitted


Public domain. This licence includes works not subject to copyright (facts, folklore, news, etc), works whose copyright and property rights have expired (70 years after the creator’s death) and works whose creators have voluntarily given up their copyright. Even if a creator has given up all their rights, they will still remain the creator of the work pursuant to law.

Note! See websites below with works with content licences or those in public domain.

Students are subject to the same copyright as others. Every work is subject to copyright and their licences must be taken into account when using them. See licence descriptions above.

Teachers often use examples of students’ work in their works and then publish them online. The works of students are also subject to copyright, and in the case of minors, publication requires the consent of their parents. Consent must be in a format reproducible in writing (email, recording, etc) and can be withdrawn at any time. Consent is granted for the use of a specific work in a specific place. For example, you cannot ask students at the beginning of the school year whether you can publish their works.

Example email:


I would like to use the work Ships at Sea, made by your child Mari in art class, in my educational material, which will be published on the school’s website. Please let me know whether you consent to this.


Teacher Tõnu

Works with a content licence or those in public domain can be found here: Pixabay and Europeana.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

When we use data in our work, it is essential to handle them correctly. Data processing is regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation, which entered into force in Europe in 2018 and made the existing laws more precise and clearer. In Estonia, the lawful use of data is supervised by the Data Protection Inspectorate.

Have you thought about the following?

Multiple platforms are used in teaching to test or assign work, which often require your name. In that case, you should let students enter only their first name or nickname, because test results are usually stored in the platform’s servers.

With any platform, you have to check whether it complies with the General Data Protection Regulation and what its age restriction is. They should be written in the terms of use. The age restriction means that parental consent is required for younger students. The school may also make a common list, to which parents can give consent.

Teachers have access to a great deal of student data, which must not be shared without permission. For example, if you need personal identification codes for a class trip, you must not retrieve them from eKool and share them with the travel agent. To do this, you need parental permission.

This is required by the General Data Protection Regulation, but it is very difficult to determine because platforms rarely say where their servers are located. Find out where the platform’s headquarters are – in most cases, platforms follow the rules of that country. Server location is important because the General Data Protection Regulation primarily applies in Europe and other countries may not comply with it.

The General Data Protection Regulation stipulates that personal data may only be stored for a minimum time, depending on the purpose of processing. Storage periods may arise from a law, regulation, internal school rules or another legal basis.