Standards and copyright

Want to know how and why NBN uses copyright and intellectual property law? You can read all about it in the guide on copyright law.
Download the guide here

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 copyright holder - in this case NBN - it is not allowed to reproduce or publish a standard, including parts of it. When you download the contents of a standard, you may therefore not use text fragments, except for legal exceptions. If you do, you risk legal 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.

Download the e-book

Want to know how and why NBN uses copyright and intellectual property law? You can read all about it in the guide on copyright law.

Download the guide here

Copyright exceptions

The Economic Law Code, Article XI. 189 et seq., provides exceptions to copyright, including:

  • Exceptions in favor of public education or scientific research by institutions officially recognized by the government for that purpose.
  • Exceptions for libraries, museums and archives.

These exceptions are possible when justified by the pursued nonprofit purpose of the organisation and do not impair the normal exploitation of the work. In these cases, it is not necessary to request permission from NBN to reproduce the work.

In addition, beyond the legal exceptions provided for in Belgian law, NBN has adopted a policy based on the principle of reasonable use, inspired by the Anglo-Saxon "faire use. Fair use is the reproduction of small excerpts of standards and other NBN content for non-commercial purposes. Fair use of a standard or NBN content requires prior permission from NBN. This can be done by completing a form on the NBN Web site. This form clearly states the limits for reasonable use.

Do you want to copy small parts of standards for "reasonable use"? Then 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.