FAQs related to copyright

Our FAQs on copyright are currently being revised and adapted to the new legal situation. This article only takes into account the legal situation before March 1, 2018.

This list contains questions that are often asked at the library. The answers are provided for orientation purposes; they do not constitute legally binding information. Please note to which material types (printed, scanned or copied materials) and areas of application (personal or public use) the answers apply. Please also note the distinction between the wording "scientific and private purposes" and "own use".

Can copies be made of whole books, CD-ROMS or e-books?

The requirement of § 53 of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) applies. If a CD-ROM contains a whole book, a whole journal or a graphic recording of musical works (sheet music), then the CD-ROM may only be copied in its entirety if this serves its inclusion in a personal archive or if the work has been out of print for a minimum of two years.
An "essentially complete" copy of a book or journal is not permitted. "Essentially complete" means that all the significant components and approximately 90 per cent of the content are reproduced, excluding tables of content and registers.

What is the maximum amount of a book that can be scanned?

No essentially complete copies may be made of the content of whole books and journals (significantly less than 90 percent) for scientific and private purposes. For other personal use, only "a small part" of the work (10 percent) or individual contributions from magazines or newspapers may be copied.

Can e-books be printed?

The conditions of the e-book licence are decisive when the printing out whole e-books is concerned. Insofar as the licence agreement does not restrict rights arising from § 53 UrhG or grants the user additional rights, the statement given in point 1 of the first question applies to whole magazines and e-books, as well as sheet music.

Can PDF files be stored/saved?

In accordance with § 53 UrhG (for scientific purposes and other personal use), PDF files for personal use may be stored/saved on any storage medium unless the licensing agreement specifies otherwise.

When does the copyright for older literature expire?

70 years after the death of the author.

Is it permitted to email scans of old stocks (books over 100 years old) from the reprographic department?

Yes, if the copyright has expired.

Can individual ISO standards be copied/printed on site?

Authorised users (members of the university, guest lecturers, students) may print out and copy extracts of standards for scientific purposes from the database using copy and paste.

Do individual licences, e.g. with DIN and VDE, apply to campus members when using the standards, or does the general German Copyright Act apply?

The decisive factors are the conditions of the licence agreement specified between the author of the standard and the publisher. If authors grant the publisher exclusive usage rights, they no longer have any rights. For the rest, standards can be viewed at the repository within the scope of personal use (§ 53 UrhG).

Can patent specifications be saved/stored and shared owing to the freedom of this type of document?

Patent specifications may be freely copied, saved/stored and shared.