Copyright laws and library services

Copyright laws and library services

§ 60e Copyright Act (UrhG) gives licence for various services offered by libraries. For instance, it stipulates the conditions under which libraries can make copies of works in their holdings. It also stipulates the conditions under which libraries can make digital works available on terminals and how much of these texts may be printed out. Interlibrary loans are also governed by this stipulation. Further, § 60d UrhG includes provisions on text and data mining, which have relevance for libraries. 

Changes to library services

Interlibrary loans

Document dispatch, which was hitherto governed by § 53a UrhG, is now governed by § 60e sec. 5 UrhG. A number of changes have been made: One very welcome change is that we are no longer limited to dispatching documents by post or fax; instead we will be able to send out electronic copies, even if there is a suitable parallel offering by a publisher. All source texts can be digitised in accordance with sec. 1 and then dispatched electronically according to sec. 5, including texts from licensed electronic resources.

However, the amount that may be taken from a given work will be reduced: In the future, we can deliver a maximum of 10% (hitherto 15%) of works, or full articles from trade publications and academic journals. Furthermore, documents may only be dispatched for non-commercial purposes. Documents from newspapers or consumer magazines will no longer be eligible for document dispatch.

The Bavarian Library Network (BVB) will adapt its interlibrary loan offering shortly to ensure compliance with the new laws. 

Reading desks

§ 60e sec. 4 UrhG governs the so-called 'terminal limit' or 'reading desk limit', which was until now dealt with in § 52b. In future, printouts or saved documents must be limited to a maximum of 10% of an individual work. Furthermore, periodicals that are not trade publications (this includes consumer magazines) and newspapers are generally barred from printing and/or saving.

The University Library is keen to offer a solution in the near future. A survey of the Bavarian academic libraries has shown that the majority of libraries is in favour of creating a joint technical solution that realises this access management for each individual session.

Text and data mining

Information (in German) on the copyright reform from the German Library Association (dbv).

In future, academics have the right to access, save and analyse databases, periodicals and other copyright-protected works to which they have lawful access – typically via a library licence – not just article by article, but comprehensively by using text and data mining technology (§ 60d UrhG). These data may be heterogeneously sourced, e.g. from various different publishing houses. It is important to note the legal clarification that the content to be analysed (e.g. essays) can be systematically copied from the databases.

For libraries, this new stipulation is relevant for two reasons: First, the required lawful access is usually established via the relevant library. Since the usual database access methods are usually not suitable for automated reading – e.g. because only individual articles can be exported in pdf format – further negotiations with the publishing houses may be needed to gain access to articles in machine-readable data formats. However, there is no right to this type of access which could be asserted vis-a-vis the publishing houses. Second, libraries (as well as public archives and other similar institutions) have an exclusive right to save the acquired data permanently to allow for subsequent verifications. Researchers, however, are required to delete the locally saved data once they have completed their research projects.

Please get in touch with the University Library, if you need to contact a publishing house or other licensor. The University Library will gladly advise you on the permanent saving of data.

Contact person for legal information