A work is any original result in the literary, artistic or scientific domain which are expressed in an objective form and can be perceived and reproduced in this form either directly or by means of technical devices. A work is original if it is the author’s own intellectual creation (Copyright Act § 4 (2) ). The protection of a work by copyright is presumed except if, based on this Act or other copyright legislation, there are apparent circumstances which preclude this. The burden of proof lies on the person who contests the protection of a work by copyright. (Copyright Act § 4(6) )
The creation of a work means the moment of expression of the work in any objective form which allows the perception and reproduction or fixation of the work. (Copyright Act § 7(2) )
Copyright subsists in works not made available to the public and in works made available to the public (published, communicated to the public). “The public” means an unspecified set of persons outside the family and immediate circle of acquaintances. (Copyright Act § 8 )
A work may be created by one person or more persons jointly. The collective contribution of several persons to the creation of a work leads to common authorship.
There are two types of common authorship: joint authorship and co-authorship.
- Joint authorship occurs when a work constitutes a single indivisible whole. For example, if two authors have written their work in inseparable cooperation from the beginning to the end, and each of them has copyright of the work as a whole.
- Co-authorship arises when a work consists of parts of an independent meaning, the creators of which are individually identifiable. A part of a work has an independent meaning if it can be used independently of other parts of the work.
Each co-author holds a copyright for the work as a whole as well as for the part of the work he has created. Each co-author may use parts he or she has created independently outside the joint work, provided that this does not adversely affect the rights of other co-authors and does not conflict with the interests of the co-authors of the work.
A collective work is a work which consists of contributions of different authors which are combined into an integral whole (works of reference, collections of scientific works, newspapers, journals and other periodicals or serials, etc.). Copyright in a collective work shall belong to the person on whose initiative and under whose management the work was created and under whose name it was published unless otherwise prescribed by contract. Contributors own copyright to their work (they are not considered co-authors) and they may use their works independently unless otherwise determined by contract. (Copyright Act § 31)
Works protected by copyright (Copyright Act § 4 (3))
1) written works in the fields of fiction, journalism, politics, education, etc.;
2) scientific works or works of popular science, either written or three-dimensional (monographs, articles, reports on scientific research, plans, schemes, models, tests, etc.);
3) computer programs that shall be protected as literary works. Protection applies to the expression in any form of a computer program;
4) speeches, lectures, addresses, sermons and other works which consist of words and which are expressed orally (oral works);
5) scripts and script outlines, librettos;
6) dramatic and dramatico-musical works;
7) musical compositions with or without words;
8) choreographic works and entertainments in dumb show;
9) audiovisual works;
10) works of painting, graphic arts, typography, drawings;
11) productions and works of set design;
12) works of sculpture;
13) architectural graphics (drawings, drafts, schemes, figures, plans, projects, etc.), letters of explanation explaining the contents of a project, additional texts and programs, architectural works of plastic art (models, etc.), works of architecture and landscape architecture (buildings, constructions, parks, green areas, etc.), urban developmental ensembles and complexes;
14) works of applied art;
15) works of design and fashion design;
16) photographic works and works expressed by a process analogous to photography, slides and slide films;
17) cartographic works (topographic, geographic, geological, etc. maps, atlases, models);
18) draft legislation;
19) standards and draft standards;
20) opinions, reviews, expert opinions, etc.;
21) derivative works, i.e. translations, adaptations of original works, modifications (arrangements) and other alterations of works;
22) collections of works and information (including databases). For the purposes of this Act, “database” means a collection of independent works, data or other economics arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means. The definition of database does not cover computer programs used in the making or operation thereof. In accordance with this Act, databases which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute the author’s own intellectual creation shall be protected as such by copyright and no other criteria are applied;
23) other works.
An author shall also enjoy copyright in the results of the intermediate stages of creating a work (drafts, sketches, plans, figures, chapters, source material for the creation of a computer program, etc.).
The original title (name) of a work is subject to protection on an equal basis with the work.
An oral work (e.g. lecture, presentation, speech) is also a work protected by copyright, as the Estonian Copyright Act recognizes the oral form of the work.
Works created in execution of duties of employment (Copyright Act § 32)
If a work is created in the course of direct employment duties, the proprietary rights are transferred to the employer. However, an agreement between the employer and the employee may provide that the proprietary rights are not transferred to the employer.
A similar provision also applies to works created in the public service where property rights are transferred to the state. Such proprietary copyrights shall be exercised on behalf of the state by the state authority on whose behalf, order or instructions the work was created.
The author's moral rights must be agreed on separately. If there is no agreement between the employer and the employee, then all moral rights are assumed to belong to the author. The employer shall be able to enter into a separate arrangement with the employee whereby the employee grants the employer an exclusive licence to exercise all or part of his or her moral rights.
Orphan works are works (such as film, photograph, book, article, etc.) protected by copyright, but the rightholder(s) of which cannot be identified even with a thorough search. (CA § 272 (3))
The provisions for the use of orphan works are set out in Chapter IV, Part 4 of the Copyright Act.
Orphan works are part of the collections currently held by, for example, libraries, museums, public service broadcasters and others. The lack of data on their ownership has been preventing making them available online. Directive 2012/28/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on certain permitted uses of orphan works laid down common rules to make the digitization and online display of orphan works legally possible. According to Article 3(6) of that Directive, the European Union Intellectual Property Office is responsible for the establishment and management of a single publicly accessible database of orphan works.
The database provides the public with information related to orphan works contained in the collections of publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments and museums, as well as archives, film or audio heritage institutions and public-service broadcasting organizations established in the Member States.
Last updated: 01.02.2022