Using copyright protected materials in my data set

Published on
November 8, 2021

The Copyright Information Point (CIP) receives many interesting questions that could easily be on an exam about Dutch Copyright Law. In the current and upcoming WUR Library Newsletters, we will highlight some of these because they’re too interesting to keep to ourselves. Today’s question is about the publication of a data set containing copyright protected materials with a Creative Commons (CC) licence in a public repository.

The question

My data set contains hundreds of newspaper articles (dating between 1820 – 2020) found in the database Delpher. Is it possible to archive this data set in a public repository with a CC licence?

The CIP's answer

The general rule

From a copyright perspective, you may always link to the newspaper. This is the safest and easiest solution if you would like to publish a data set like this open access. As soon as you want to include the complete newspaper articles in your data set, you need to consider copyright law.

Generally, newspaper articles included in Delpher are protected by copyright. Only the copyright owner has the right to express, publish, display, distribute and copy his or her work. This means that you may not copy these articles into a data set and then publish this data set open access in a public repository without the copyright owner’s permission. Before you copy any article, check the copyright information provided by Delpher to see what is allowed and what you need to consider if you would like to use copyright protected material that they provide.

Copyright expiration

Copyright ends 70 years after the death of the copyright owner or when no author is mentioned 70 years after publication. After 70 years, the work (e.g. a newspaper article) enters the public domain, which means that everybody can use the work as they see fit..  If an article is written, for example, in 1920, and the author passed away in 1990, the article is still protected by copyright for 70 years or until 2060. But, if the author of the same article passed away in 1925, the article became part of the public domain in 1995 and can now be used by everyone as they see fit. 


Only the copyright owner can publish his or her work under a CC-licence. If you want to publish your data set containing copyright protected newspaper articles open access in a public repository under a CC-licence, you need to ask the copyright owner for permission to do this. If the copyright on a newspaper article has ended, you may publish it in a data set, but make sure that you do not publish this data set under a CC-licence or make clear to the reader that the CC-licence does not apply to these articles. A CC-licence provides conditions people need to consider when they would like to use copyright protected work, but if the work is not copyrighted, these conditions do not apply and a licence is not needed.


If you have any questions about copyright law, please feel free to contact the Copyright Information Point. Don’t worry! We’ll only write about your question with your permission.