Germany’s Upper House, the Bundesrat, has approved draft legislation on orphan works. The law will make it easier for public institutions to digitalise orphan works and to place them on the internet.

Copyright: Bundesrat approves proposal on orphan works © fotodo -
Copyright: Bundesrat approves proposal on orphan works © fotodo –

Legislation on orphan works

Under the new legislation, public institutions such as public libraries, educational establishments, museums, archives, film or audio heritage institutions and public-service broadcasting organisations will be able to digitise and reproduce works whose owner is unknown or cannot be located (orphan works).

The changes modify current German copyright law under which reproducing copyright-protected works or making them publicly accessible is only permitted with the prior express consent of the copyright owner.

Second publishing rights

An accompanying initiative by the German Parliament is to introduce legislation on second publishing rights.

These proposals will allow copyright owners of scientific publications to re-publish them online 12 months after first being published, provided reference is made to the original publication.

It will apply to scientific publications which receive “public funding of at least 50% and which appear in a journal released two times a year.”

Bundesrat resolution

In a resolution, the Bundesrat made clear that it believes second publishing rights should be available to all university researchers. It also called for the legislation to apply to journals which are published annually and for a six month embargo to be considered.

The Bundesrat also signalled that it expects the still-to-be-formed new German government to act quickly in passing legislation on the use of copyright-protected works by schools, universities and research institutions.

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