When may I use a work?

In principle, copyright is simple –

You need permission every time you use a protected work.


If you want to copy, download, present or otherwise use works, pieces of music, films, images, photographs, computer games or other works, you need permission – also known as a licence. You can usually obtain this from the rights owner. Under certain circumstances, the collective management organisations can help you find the rights owner.


In certain areas, the legislators have given priority to public interest in unhindered usage of works rather than the interest of authors. For example, schools are allowed to use works in lessons and we are all allowed to use works in the private sphere. These uses are permitted by law. You do not require the rights owner’s permission. However, as soon as you leave the private sphere – which is often the case on the internet – permission must be sought and obtained from the rights owner for each use.