April 24, 2024 | Patrik Anthoni


IP Essentials: Copyright

Harnessing copyright protection is not just about safeguarding original works; it's about preserving the essence of innovation and nurturing a culture of creativity. In this segment of our series on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in Finland, we delve into the significance of copyrights as part of any company’s IPR portfolio.


Copyright is the exclusive right to the use of an original work they have created. Works that may be subject to copyright can be any literary or artistic work, a movie, a photograph, a computer program or any other form of work that is presentable in some way. The purpose of granting copyright protection is to encourage innovation and the creation of new art, literature and other works.

Copyright gives protection to the form of the work, meaning that the way the work is presented in is protected rather that the idea or content of the work itself. As opposed to trademarks or patents, acquiring copyright protection does not require any form of registration ­– exclusive right to the work in question is granted upon creation of the work, and it lasts for the author’s life plus 70 years after the author is deceased.

 The exclusive right to a work can be divided to two: commercial and moral rights. According to the Copyright Act of Finland (404/1961), commercial rights grant the author of a work with the exclusive right to reproduce the work and to offer the work (or reproduced copies of it) to the public, either in its original form or altered in some way.

An author also gains moral rights to a work, meaning that the author must be referred to when the work is presented to the public or the work is copied (‘paternity rights’). When a derivative or an altered version of the original work is produced, the resulting work must respect the original work and the author in a manner that takes into account the value of the work and the reputation of the author (‘respect rights’).  Unlike with commercial rights, the author of an original work cannot fully forfeit their moral rights to a work, meaning in essence that to some degree the author must always be mentioned in connection with the work.


Besides from having the right to create copies of a work and distributing them to the public, companies benefit from copyright protection in several ways. As copyright is granted to the author of the work, and the author is usually an employee, companies usually include special terms in employment agreements to ensure that all works created by the employee will be owned by the company, and that all copyrights will be transferred to the company.

In addition to employees creating works at the company’s behest, companies can also ensure the transfer of copyrights to them contractually in other instances, e.g. when agreeing on a service to be delivered to the company by a service provider. Such a situation could, for example, arise when a company purchases the services of a software developer. The company and the software developer then usually agree on the transfer of the copyright of the developed software to the company in the service agreement.

Moreover, if a company agrees on a service with a service provider, and the service concerns the development of an existing work or the creation of a novel work based on existing material, agreements should also be drafted in a manner that ensures any derivative works to be the company’s property. Companies can also allow the use of their copyright via licensing agreements, whereby the licensee is granted the right to use the copyright according to the license terms.


While the main principle is that any work can be used only with the permission of the author in the way the author sees fit, copyright protection is not absolute, and certain exceptions to exclusive rights do exist in Finnish law.

The most common exception to the exclusivity of copyright is the “private use” exception that allows for the creation of certain copyrighted material for a person’s personal use. The Finnish Copyright Act allows for the creation of a few copies for private use. However, this exception does not cover music, movies or digital works, such as computer programs.


Overall, copyright serves as a crucial mechanism for fostering creativity, incentivizing innovation, and safeguarding the rights of creators. Copyright should not be overlooked in any contractual arrangements companies have with service providers, business partners or their employees as to ensure the ownership of copyright in all situations.

If you are in need of legal assistance concerning copyright and how they should be included in commercial agreements, do not hesitate to contact us.