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Standards and copyright

Standards and copyright: the protection of intellectual property rights

Standards are created through intense collaboration between experts from various organisations: from commercial companies through research institutions to public authorities and NGOs. The resulting documents constitute intellectual property which is bound by copyright. Or in short: you are not allowed to copy, publish and reproduce (any part of) standards.

Why are standards subject to copyright?

Just like books and other publications, standards – both on paper and in digital format – are protected by copyright. This gives ‘the author’ the necessary and exclusive guarantees that his intellectual property will not be unlawfully copied or disseminated. For copyright violation means loss of income for organisations which develop and disseminate standards.

The BEC uses the sales of standards to finance standardisation activities, just like other national and international standards organisations. In other words: without copyright, the general standards process would be put at risk. Copyright also prevents users from making inappropriate changes to standards.

Copyright protection

Reproducing or publishing any part of a standard is strictly prohibited without express written permission from the copyright holder which, in this case, is the BEC. Therefore if you download the content of a standard, you are not allowed to use any fragments of text for your own PowerPoint presentation, for example. If you do, then you risk legal prosecution and high penalties.

The exception: reasonable use

Reasonable use means reproducing small fragments (max. 10% of the text of the standard) for non-commercial purposes, such as education. As soon as you consider reasonable use applies, you can submit a request for an exception to the BEC. The form indicates the limits to which you are held with regard to the exception.

Want to submit a request for reasonable use?

Use the application form, for all other cases it is best to contact the BEC.