Standards and copyright

Standards are protected by copyright. What does that mean? Why do standards bodies use them? And what implications does this have for you?
Find out below

Our standards are copyrighted

Standards are created through the close collaboration of experts from many different organisations. These can be companies, NGOs, governments, or research institutions, for example. The resulting documents are intellectual property, and as such, they are protected by copyright. Concretely this means you are not allowed to copy, publish or reproduce (parts of) standards.

Copyright on standards, what does that mean?

Like books and other publications, standards whether in paper or digital form are subject to copyright. This means that the 'author' has the necessary guarantees that his intellectual work will not be illegally copied or distributed. After all, copyright infringement means lost revenue for organisations that develop and distribute standards.

NBN uses the sale of standards to fund standardisation activities, as do other national and international standards agencies. In other words, without copyright protection, the overall standards process is jeopardised. Moreover, copyright prevents users from making inappropriate changes to standards.

Why we apply copyright law

Without the express written permission of the entitled party in this case, NBN it is forbidden to reproduce or publish a standard, even partially. This means that if you download the contents of a standard, you can not use text fragments for your own PowerPoint presentation, for example. If you do, you risk prosecution and heavy fines.

Some examples:

  • You are not allowed to copy paper versions of a standard, but you may keep them in your organisation's library for consultation.
  • You can print a standard in pdf format maximum one time and you can not distribute it within your organisation.

The exception: reasonable use

Every rule has its exceptions, including copyright law.

Do you want to copy small parts of standards for 'reasonable use'? You can request permission to do so using this request form.

'Reasonable use' is the reproduction of small excerpts for non-commercial, educational and informational purposes according to specific rules.