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Legal aspects

In this section, you can find helpful information about what you have to keep in mind when using and publishing content on MyLEARN. This section also includes general information about topics related to digital teaching and law. If you have any questions regarding copyright law in connection with digital teaching, you can contact our legal expert Martin Heigl-Nettel at

Uploading works by third parties to LEARN

For teaching purposes, you may copy a copyrighted work and make the copies available online without asking the copyright holder for permission. This means that you can copy such materials for the participants of a specific course and make the copies available on MyLEARN.

Please make sure you do not commit any copyright violations when using uploaded content for other purposes. The right to use copyrighted materials without permission as described above is strictly limited to teaching and learning purposes on a digital learning platform run by a university. Any further uses, e.g. using the material for lecture notes or using it commercially, are not covered.

Please also note that you may not use any works for this purpose that, based on their character and designation, are intended for school or educational use.

The legal basis of these rules is the Austrian Copyright Act (Urheberrechtsgesetz).

Yes, in principle, this is possible, but you need permission from the copyright holder. You can for example obtain their permission by means of a licensing agreement. Please note: Depending on the publisher, scholarly articles from online databases may be subject to different copyrights. While some works may be used freely (and uploaded to an eLearning platform), others may only be copied in analog media. For works in the latter category, it is illegal to make them available online. Please always make sure you know in which form you are allowed to use a specific article.

Aside from conventional licensing agreements, some copyright holders may also allow the general public to make free use of their works, e.g. under a creative commons license.

Yes, under the right of quotation. The basic requirement for this is that you have to create a work of your own, e.g. presentation slides, in which you quote someone else’s work/content. A quotation must never be an end in itself. It must always be related to the content of the work in which it appears.

Copyright law defines a quotation as one-to-one copy of someone else’s work, in full or in part, i.e. a verbatim or direct quote. Quotations must be identified as such. In any case, the following information about the source of the quotation must be provided:

  • The author’s name
  • The place of publication
  • The year of publication

Example: A student of a program in Japanese studies writes an essay about a topic that Haruki Murakami frequently addresses in his writings, namely the chances and opportunities people let pass in their lives.

The student quotes a passage from the short story “On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning” that deals with this topic:

“But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fourteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.”

She (correctly) quotes the source as follows: “Murakami, Haruki. The Elephant Vanishes. New York 1994, page 72.”

One work, several authors - what are their rights?

Joint authorship (§ 11 of the Copyright Act) is characterized by a creative process carried out together by several authors, and by the fact that the individual contributions taken for themselves cannot be used in a meaningful way, i.e. the results of the joint creative process constitute an inseparable whole.

Joint authorship does not apply in cases where the results of the creative process can be separated, i.e. if individual parts of a work can be used independently (e.g. music and lyrics) but are combined to form a new work. In such cases, every collaborator is regarded as the author of the individual part of the work he or she has created (§ 11 [3] of the Copyright Act).

Someone who only provides an idea or suggestion that someone else then develops into a work is not considered a co-author.

In a university context, this is for example the case when you, as a teacher, provide ideas and suggestions for master’s theses, dissertations, or other academic theses or papers. Teachers who suggest a thesis topic to a student, recommend literature, or point out specific questions and problems are not considered co-authors of the resulting work because they have not made an independent contribution to the creation of the work. If you would like to make copyrighted works written by students, PhD/doctoral candidates, or academic staff members available online on MyLEARN, you must ask the respective author for permission.

No, the person who has commissioned a work (e.g. a provider of third-party funding who co-finances the development of a teaching project) is not considered a (co-)author, because he or she does not create anything him or herself (no independent intellectual contribution).

Additional resources

  • FAQs on copyright issues in eLearning
  • Urheberrechtsgesetz (Austrian Copyright Act)
  • Bleibt alles anders? Eine Einführung in urheberrechtliche Rahmenbedingungen im E-Learning
    Author: Nikolaus Forgó
    In: Günther, Johann (ed.), Virtuelle Kommunikation und Kollaboration, Tagungsband zum 10. Business Meeting des Vereins Forum Neue Medien, Graz 2005, p. 87 ff – a highly readable introduction
  • Rechte an digitalen Lernplattformen II
    Author: Elisabeth Staudegger
    In: Günther, Johann (ed.), Virtuelle Kommunikation und Kollaboration, Tagungsband zum 10. Business Meeting des Vereins Forum Neue Medien, Graz 2005, p. 189 ff
  • Wem „gehören“ E-Learning-Materialien? Urheber und Inhaber der Nutzungsrechte an den von Universitätsangehörigen geschaffenen Lernressourcen
    Author: Helena Taubner
    In: Günther, Johann (Hrsg.), Virtuelle Kommunikation und Kollaboration, Tagungsband zum 10. Business Meeting des Vereins Forum Neue Medien, Graz 2005, p. 98 ff
  • European IP Helpdesk
    A website run by the European Commission that provides comprehensive information on intellectual property, including guidelines for creating websites, information on copyright, copyright issues in the web, and short primers on copyright exemptions in the fields of science and research