Copyright exceptions in Germany

German Exceptions: Copyright in the Knowledge Economy (2017)

A new law on copyright in the knowledge economy, Urheberrechts-Wissensgesellschafts-Gesetz, was adopted by the Bundestag in mid 2017 to replace ss. 52a, 52b and 53b with new sections 60a-60h. It enters into force March 2018 and will remain valid for a limited period of five years. After this time, the legislator must expressly prolong their validity or replace them with different rules, following the likely adoption of a new Directive on the Digital Single Market. See the full text of the law (German).

Most relevant to language resources are the elimination of §52a, which governs “making works available to the public for teaching and research”, and the replacing of §60 with an extensive set of proposed rules on “permitted uses for teaching, research, and institutions”, a new §60a through §60h. These set specific percentages for what portion of works may be used for different purposes, such as teaching and research, and remove key areas of legal uncertainty. Of particular interest to language resources are:

  • § 60a on Teaching:

    • In order to illustrate teaching at educational institutions, up to 15 per cent of a published work may be reproduced, disseminated, made publicly available, and otherwise publicly reproduced for non-commercial purposes.

  • § 60c on Scientific Research:

    • For the purpose of non-commercial scientific research, up to 15 percent of a work may be reproduced, disseminated and made publicly accessible for a defined circle of persons for their own scientific research and for individual third parties, to the extent that this serves to verify the quality of scientific research.

    • For personal scientific research (presumably, research by a single researcher), up to 75 per cent of a work may be reproduced.

    • It is not permitted by paragraphs under these provisions to include these in the form of public lectures, screenings or demonstrations of a work, or to make them publicly available.

  • § 60d on Text and Data Mining:

    • For text and data mining on vast numbers of works (as source material) for scientific research, it is permitted:

      • to reproduce the source material in an automated and systematic manner in order to create a corpus, especially through normalization, structuring and categorization;

      • to make the corpus accessible to a defined circle of persons for joint scientific research as well as to individual third parties to check the quality of scientific research;

      • for non-commercial purposes only;

      • the corpus and the copies of the source material shall be deleted after completion of the research and access to the public is to be terminated; however, it is permissible to transmit the corpus and reproductions of the original material to libraries and archives for permanent storage;

      • as far as the sui generis database right is concerned, such data mining as specified above is deemed lawful and therefore cannot be prohibited by the rightsholder.

Overall, the proposals give much clearer guidance for researchers while remaining within  the constraints of EU law (especially art. 5 InfoSoc Directive).