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Dealing with Copyright in Education

General Information about Copyright

"Copyright is the exclusive right of the creator of a work of literature, science or art, or his/her successor in title, to publish and make copies of this work, subject to any restrictions specified by law." (Article 1 of the Copyright Act)

When someone creates something new and original, that person automatically holds the copyright to this work. “Work” can be anything: a text, an image, a video, a performance, etc. The copyright holder has two rights that are relevant for reusing material for educational purposes.

  • Firstly, the copyright holder alone has the right to make the work public.
  • Secondly, the copyright holder alone has the right to reproduce the work.

The second right is particularly important. For example, when you upload a PDF to Canvas, you are reproducing the work. After all, you are making it available to a new audience. Even if the material is publicly available somewhere, posting the PDF on Canvas is seen as reproducing it. Only when someone has given explicit permission (such as via a Creative Commons license) can you republish it without infringing copyright.

In addition, you may always link to publications that are available on the internet (including articles for which the University Library has a licence). If you use a link, you are not reproducing the work; you are simply referring people to the original source.

For more detailed information about copyright, you can visit the following websites:

Agreement with Stichting UvO

If it is not possible to include materials in your educational resources for free, you can use the Easy Access Agreement of

Please keep in mind that the VU always pays for these kinds of extracts.

In 2017, Dutch universities agreed – through the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) – with Stichting UvO (Publishers’ Organization for Educational Licenses) to reduce the number of extracts by 5% every year. This includes extracts that fall both within and outside the scope of the Easy Access Agreement. This reduction was necessary because the universities had used more extracts in the previous years than had been paid for. If this reduction target is not achieved, the universities will have to pay an additional fee.

For this reason, we would like to ask you to use as much material as possible that is available free of charge or, if you are making use of the Easy Access Agreement, to keep the extracts as short as possible.

The Easy Access Agreement works in a similar way as a contract with your gas and electricity supplier at home. Each period, universities pay an advance amount based on expected use. At the end of the contract term, it is calculated whether the advance payments were enough to cover actual use and the account is settled. The VU strives to reduce the amount of extracts used by offering alternative solutions. For advice and support about these alternatives contact us at