15 February 2017, No. 03/2017

Modern and science-friendly copyright law is indispensable for Germany

Joint statement by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany

The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany expressly welcomes the changes to current copyright law that the Federal Ministry of Justice recently initiated. Germany’s universities and research institutions are certain that the unquestioned recognition and remuneration of the use of intellectual works today must be embedded in a copyright law that is consistent with an international, open and digitalised teaching and research culture at universities and research institutions worldwide. 

In light of Germany’s role as a location for innovation and as a knowledge society, the following aspects in the modernisation of the current copyright law must be stressed:

  • The proposed changes in the current copyright law provide for field-specific exceptions for scholarly or scientific purposes to enable seamless, legally permitted use for instruction, science and memory institutions.
  • A publisher reservation will not be included; such a provision would abrogate an exception rule and lead once more to legal uncertainty and a lack of practicality.
  • A sample-based flat fee for the use of the exception rules is envisaged. In light of the indicated amount of documentation needed for capturing and recording individual cases and the global trend toward open forms of usage, such a fee is imperative.

The proposed amendment will enable a fair balance of interests between originators and science and will significantly advance the implementation of the German government’s Digital Agenda 2014-2017.

Various stakeholders from the publishing sector are currently taking a stand with a scenario that predicts the “expropriation” of the originators. Their intention is to prevent the planned amendment of Germany’s copyright law during this legislative period.

The Alliance firmly rejects this stance: the decisions that are to be taken will be of crucial importance for the future viability of Germany’s universities (and for their students in particular) and the science system as a whole. We call upon the German government and the German Bundestag to meet their responsibility in this matter.

Press contact:
Roland Koch
Press Liaison / Team Leader Public Relations
Helmholtz Association
Tel.: +49 30 206329-56

This statement was co-authored with the following science organisations:
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), German Rectors’ Conference, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, German Academic Exchange Service, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Max Planck Society, German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat)

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 28,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 54 Nobel Prize winners.

The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany

The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany is a union of the most important German research organisations. It issues statements relating to research policy and funding and the structural development of the German research system.


Georg Scholl
Head of
Press, Communications and Marketing
Tel.: +49 228 833-258
Fax: +49 228 833-441

Roland Koch
Helmholtz Association
Press Liaison / Team Leader Public Relations
Tel.: +49 30 206329-56