Exceptions for education

The Dutch Copyright Act contains three exceptions that are important to reuse in education (known as limitations) (Sections 15 and 16 of the Dutch Copyright Act). a) Screening limitation b) Education limitation c) Right to quote

A. Screening limitation

A protected work can be shown or played within the framework of education without a profit motive without the copyright holder’s permission (Section 12(5) of the Dutch Copyright Act).

This applies to audiovisual works such as films, video and television programmes, to audio such as music and sound recordings and to still images such as photographs and works of art.

Publication must, however, be part of the curriculum. It must also physically occur within the education institution itself; so, on the basis of this exception a film that is on the Internet can be screened in the classroom, but a copy of it cannot be put on a digital teaching environment for the students to view at home.

B. Education limitation

Parts of (any type of) works may be copied and published for illustration in non-commercial education (Section 16 of the Dutch Copyright Act). In this case, publication or screening does not have to physically occur in the classroom.

Publishing a copy through a digital teaching environment is therefore also permitted, provided that it is solely intended for educational purposes, so in a private environment that students can access using a password.

In addition, the parts of the works can only be used for illustration in the education; so they must be supplementary to and not replace teaching.

Moreover, these education exceptions stipulate that the copyright holder must receive fair compensation for the use of their work. In fact, fair compensation of 0 euros could be agreed with the copyright holder. In higher education, this has been arranged using a common approach via the reader scheme, a purchase agreement for short passages.

In accordance with this exception full, in other words complete, works can only be used in education if they are short works, photographs or works of art. In addition, compilation works (such as (digital) readers and (image) databases) may only contain a few (short) works from one and the same creator. So it is better to make use of the screening limitation (exception 1) for screening or playing (long) video or audio recordings in the classroom where, moreover, there is no requirement to pay fair compensation for this.

Education institutions enter into annual agreements with Stichting PRO on the compensation and scale of use of works. This is for both short and long works in digital and paper format.

Conditions (Section 15a of the Dutch Copyright Act):
•    In addition, the education limitation requires source citation.
•    Furthermore, no changes may be made to the work.
•    And the work must have been published previously (an unpublished work cannot be used).

Moreover, agreements between publishers and a higher education institution often take the form of a campus licence nowadays. In a campus licence the contract contains the agreement that the digital files can be used within the research university's or university of applied sciences’ network without compensation.


Different rules apply to the use of music during lessons and outside of lessons too, such as during the break and school parties. It would be better for a school to contact Buma/Stemra instead of Stichting PRO for this. This also applies to situations where a student uses copyright protected audio material in a final project which incorporates audiovisual material for example. An agreement can be reached with Buma/Stemra annually to cover the use of music. This will, of course, include the payment of fair compensation as far as possible. Tailored licences can also be obtained. All of this depends on the type of education, the type of music and the type of music use.

Plagiarism is forbidden in education, in the same way as it is not permitted outside of education. This includes, for instance, slavish imitation. Nor is indiscriminate remixing or sampling permitted. Source citation, or requesting permission for (re)use is therefore extremely important. Illegal downloading or streaming is not permitted in education either. Finally, hyperlinking to illegal sources is also not permitted.

C. Right to quote
The right to quote allows protected works to be included in an ‘academic treatise’ free of charge and without the creator's permission. This can be interpreted broadly: it also covers a PowerPoint presentation for education. The right to quote is limited of course, even in education.

A quote must be functional for example; it must support the content of the treatise, so not just be for decoration or to liven it up.

In addition, the size of the quote must be related to the objective you are trying to achieve; long programmes or long texts must not be copied for example, short text fragments can be. Works of art and photographs can be ‘quoted’ in their entirety.

The ‘right to quote’ is also subject to the three conditions for screening for education: source citation, no changes and previous publication (Section 15a of the Dutch Copyright Act).

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