As an alternative to the traditional copyright model, we offer a Creative Commons licence we think is more in line with the idea of spreading and sharing academic content. This page is to introduce you to the concept of Creative Commons, thus explain the differences to traditional copyright models and their respective implications for rights holders as well as users of these videos.

Copyright, "All rights reserved"

Copyright has legal implications for the use of (almost) any object, with videos produced in the academic world no exception: Here, speakers are copyright holders for each video and the licence describes how the copyright object (i.e. the video) can be used. With this video portal being part of ETH Zurich's website, the standard licencse is in line with the overall stipulations of ETH regarding copyright: Their use is allowed for private, scientific and noncommercial purposes, any sharing, copying or storing on third-party servers need prior consent from the copyright owner.

While it's legally obsolescent, "All rights reserved" still is the slogan indicating things are under copyright, often in conjunction with a copyright symbol. However, these labels are not necessary to originate authorship and/or subsequent copyright, so consider all videos being subject to the stipulations mentioned, particularly videos protected in access (nethz, AAI, password etc.).

While this allows for personal use of videos, it's not very helpful when it comes to sharing content. This is where Creative Commons comes into action:

Open Access

ETH Zurich has committed itself to the principles of Open Access in order to promote the free exchange of knowledge. While we might take access to educational resources and academic content as granted at ETH, this is certainly not true for other institutions and other countries especially. Access restrictions exclude them from the exchange of knowledge that is the very heart of the academic process. In order to alleviate this situation, content produced in the public domain should be made available to everyone interested in order to give everyone the chance to benefit from its intellectual wealth - and contribute to academic progress in the long run.

This has also been a guiding principle in the domain of academic video: A large proportion of the content produced at ETH Zurich, whether it is lecture recordings or videos from conferences hosted here, have been and still are freely available. This has been possible due to the willingness of lecturers and speakers to do so, but also to their scrutiny with respect to intellectual property rights. Researchers, students, the academic community, and society at large benefit from this generosity in that they have access to the latest research results and get an insight to the educational wealth of ETH Zurich.

Legal clearance,  intellectual property rights

ITS Multimedia Services as operator of the video sign individual contracts with lecturers and receive consent forms from speakers in order to make sure recordings can be made public and do not violate relevant jurisdiction. These agreements grant the right to record lectures in the first place ("right of publicity"), but more importantly, they touch upon the issue of intellectual property rights and the use of copyrighted material in an academic context.
The quintessence is the affirmation of speakers that their use of third-party content is coherent with the academic code of practice in that references are being made to the source of the content and that usage should be limited to the essence of a quotation (scope and extent). This usage is prerequisite for an exemption to copyright law.

Fair use

This code of practice is internationally referred to as "fair use": Copyrighted material can be utilized under certain circumstances, educational and non-commercial usage being two of them. Together with the academic code of practice mentioned, fair use basically allows for certain exceptions to the protection of intellectual property rights - even in material publicly available. More information can be found in the context of the OpenCourseWare movement - also highlighting a US perspective on this issue.

Creative Commons

While the arrangements makes sure the recordings and videos are fit to be published, they do not provide the rights holders (i.e. the speakers, lecturers and producers of video) with rights regarding their content. This is where Creative Commons comes into play in that it stipulates rules for the use of content published by ETH Zurich - but owned by the rights holders. Published along side with the video, it reminds users of the rights they have regarding the video at hand - and the rights they ought to respect.
In response to talks we had about concerns and questions around the free accessibility of the video content, we decided to go for a rather restrictive Creative Commons licence, summarized in the CC logo:


The logo and the acronyms indicate the restrictions imposed on the use of the video:

  • BY: The content must be attributed to the rights holder. Anyone using the video must indicated the rights holder (i.e. the lecturer) and where it comes from ("ETH Zürich").
  • NC: Commercial use of the content is not allowed.
  • ND: No derivatives may be produced from the content: The material is to be allocated in its original form and may not be edited (no excerpts or manipulations).

Details of the licence are available as deeds and at full length.

Copyright infringements

Violation of the licence agreements will be pursued in accordance with Swiss law.


  • Take-down policy (de-publication): While we rely on speakers to vet their presentations with respect to the use of third-party content and try to support them by re-editing critical passages, there might be situations where protected content is being published which is not covered by fair academic use. Rights holders who consider their content was used unauthorized please . We will try to sort out the situation as soon as possible and take down the content at stake.
  • Use of copyrighted material: Contact the copyright holder (speaker, organiser, departement) first and foremost. ITS Multimedia Services cannot allow usage of material beyond the licence stipulated.



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    - skynesher
    - webphotographeer
    - PinkBadger
    - izusek
    - mbbirdy
    - rihardzz
    - vm
    - photofriday
    - Trifonov_Evgeniy
  • ETH Zürich
    - Silvia Schöning 
    - Alessandro Della Bella
    - Oliver Bartenschlager
    - Frank Brüderli
    - Theo Brasaccio, Nathalie Schmidig

with respective copyright.

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