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FAQ Copyright Legislation

Teachers and researchers at TU Berlin have a number of options for making content in research and teaching available online. The following Q & A text provides information on the current legal situation. We will continually update and amend this text to ensure that it reflects future developments (last updated: 15.02.2018). 

New copyright legislation effective from 01.03.2018

The Bundestag approved a fundamental reform of copyright legislation on 30.06.2017. The Bundesrat (the upper house of the German parliament) passed the legislation on 07.07.2017. The new copyright legislation relating to the academic community, the Urheberrechts-Wissensgesellschafts-Gesetz (abbreviated hereinafter to UrhWissG), thus took effect on 01.03.2018 for an initial period of five years.

The new legislation contains binding regulations concerning the use of copyright-protected works in research and teaching, and provides much clearer guidelines concerning the extent to which these may be used and made available online via digital course reserves. Universities, research organizations and libraries unreservedly welcome these new regulations. 

At the core of the legislation are six limitations and exceptions.

  • Section 60a UrhWissG permits up to 15 percent of a work to be used for the purposes of teaching at educational institutes (e.g. schools, universities).
  • Section 60b UrhWissG makes it easier to prepare classroom and teaching material.
  • Section 60c UrhWissG permits the use of up to 15% of a work for non-commercial academic research; 75% of a work may be copied for personal use.
  • Section 60d UrhWissG provides regulations for the first time on so-called text and data mining. This is a research method allowing large quantities of copyright-protected content (e.g. texts, images, sound recordings) to be automatically analyzed.
  • Section 60e UrhWissG covers the various concessions for libraries. These include permission for libraries to digitize works from their collections for the purposes of preservation. Section 60e also regulates the conditions under which libraries are permitted to make works available at their terminals and the percentage of works which can be printed from these terminals. It further regulates the dispatch of copies via libraries.
  • Section 60f UrhWissG includes similar concessions as those for libraries, but applied to archives, museums and educational establishments.

You can view the text (in German only) in the version valid from March 2018 in the Bundesgesetzblatt.

Also of relevance are the statements (again only available in German) from the Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany and the German Library Association:

Stellungnahme der Allianz der Wissenschaftsorganisationen
Stellungnahme des Deutschen Bibliotheksverbands e.V. (dbv) 

Which regulations apply for teaching from 01.03.2018?

In the future, Section 60a of the UrhG will apply for material used and made available for teaching (replacing section 52a of the UrhG). Section 60a applies to material used to illustrate teaching content, material for the preparation and follow-up to courses, as well as examinations for non-commercial purposes.

It is permitted to use and make available:

  1. max. 15 % of a work - NEW
  2. individual journal articles or other "small" works
  3. out-of-print works (no longer obtainable via the book trade): entire work
  4. illustrations, diagrams and images from academic journals: in full
  5. it is not permitted to make available texts or illustrations from daily newspapers or magazines (e.g. Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche) - NEW

Which regulations apply for research from 01.03.2018?

In the future, Section 60c of the UrhG will apply for non-commercial, academic research and for test purposes.

(This means that all parties with access to documents use them exclusively for the purposes of their own research)

In this regard, the following may be used and made available in the access-protected Intranet:

  • 15 % of a work - NEW
  • works: complete
    this includes

    • films up to 5 minutes
    • music scores up to six pages
    • text up to 25 pages
    • illustrations, graphics
    • essays in journals

  • out-of-print works
  • up to 75% of a work may be copied for the purposes of own academic Research.

Why do I have to assign a license for documents in ISIS?

We wish to make it possible for as many documents as possible to be made available for you and the students on a permanent basis.

The statutory regulations of Section 60A UrhWissG and the guidelines of the Senate Chancellery for Higher Education and Research limit the provision of copyright protected material to the duration of a course only.

With the help of the licenses (see "Which licenses are available in ISIS"), we can automatically make precisely those documents non-viewable for which it is necessary to do so.

How long do my documents remain viewable in ISIS?

Documents made available in accordance with Section 60a may not continue to be available after the course has ended. In order to be able to implement this guideline, documents will be automatically set to non-viewable after the relevant date for licenses marked as "ungeprüft" (unchecked) or "urheberrechtlich geschützt (nach § 60a UrhG bereitgestellt)" (copyright protected (made available in accordance with Section 60a UrhG)). Due to the possibility to retake an examination, this date is set for 13 months after the start of the semester (end of October or end of April).


  • Documents with the above licenses submitted in the summer semester 2017 will be set to non-viewable on 30.04.2018.
  • Documents with the above licenses submitted in the winter semester 2017/2018 will be set to non-viewable on 31.10.2018.

Which licenses are available in ISIS?

From 16 May 2017, documents will automatically be assigned the "license unchecked" status. You can then assign the appropriate license.  This enables "Section 60a documents" or documents with an undefined license to be automatically set to non-viewable. The following license categories are available:

  • Lizenz ungeprüft (License unchecked)
    All documents receive this license category when generated.
  • Urheberrechtlich geschützt (nach § 60a UrhG (Neu) bereitgestellt)  (Copyright protected (provided in accordance with Section 60a UrhG (new))
    This license is to be assigned to all excerpts (see above for permitted quantities) which are provided in accordance with Section 60a UrhG (new). This applies, for example, to scans of individual sections from textbooks.
  • Mit Genehmigung des Urhebers (with permission of the author)
    You can assign this license if you have received permission to publish the text from the author.
  • Freie Inhalte (Open Content)
    This includes 
  • Gemeinfrei (works in the public domain)
    Works by authors who have been dead more than 70 years or works which appeared prior to 1920

Are e-books or online journal articles made available by the library which I can then make links to?

Yes. You can search for the title in Wissensportal Primo and make a link to the full text. Please contact the University Library information service with any questions you may have.

Can I make my own teaching material available? What can be included?

Yes, self-created materials may continue to be provided. Quotations and illustrations with details of sources are admissible.

The following are also admissible:

How can I make my own publications available?

You can arrange a secondary open access publication on DepositOnce, TU Berlin's repository for research data and publications, to ensure access (within TU Berlin and beyond) to your own publications. Whether an open access secondary or parallel publication is legally permitted, depends on the conditions in your contract of publication and the general conditions of the publisher. The University Library open access team will gladly help you check the legal requirements.

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