Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, April 23, 2007

German copyright proposals would reduce access and impede research

Germany's Coalition for Action on Copyright for Education and Research (Aktionsbündnis: Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft) issued a press release on April 19 calling on Germany's Bundestag to reject copyright proposals that would impede research and adopt proposals that would promote and facilitate research.  Read it in German or Google's English.

Rainer Kuhlen, Speaker for the Coalition, has been kind enough to send me some additional details on the press release and copyright proposals:

As one of the means to put some pressure on the German law makers, in their final phase to pass a highly science and education unfriendly copyright law (the second attempt since 2003), we have encouraged [the 600+] professors [who signed the Coalition-sponsored Göttingen Declaration on Copyright for Education and Research, July 5, 2004] to write a letter to politicians in parliament and government. This is what the press release is about. In this letter we have concentrated on five aspects:

  1. Section 52b will allow access to digital material of a library from special work spaces within in the library only (on the spot use). We will be forced to go to the information rather than information should come to us (for instance campus-wide).
  2. 53a will concede publishers a monopoly for electronic document distribution; libraries and services such as subito will no longer be allowed to provide their clientele with electronic information, in case market will offer electronic retail services (what publishers increasingly do).
  3. We invite our politicians to take care for the problem of orphan works (what they have not done so far) and this as liberal as possible We support the position of the German Research Society (DFG): Orphan works should be seen and treated as being in the public domain until the rights holders claim the copyright. To ensure the freedom of research and educational use it is imperative, from the DFG's point of view, to guarantee that the digitisation of public domain or orphan works does not set new precedents concerning new copyright or exploitation rights over digital works."  
  4. We oppose any use of digital rights management in science and education; and, finally,
  5. We support the proposal of the German Bundesrat, the chamber of the states, to modify 38 UrhG so that the embargo time which is now 12 months will be reduced to six months at most, and, what is even more important, that this right cannot be overcome by contract, so that any agreement which give publishers an exclusive and unlimited right for their publication will be illegal. We believe that this can be a first (although insufficient) step towards open access publishing in institutional repositories. The government has rejected this proposal so far. In general they argue that open access is by no means restricted by copyright laws....

Update.  Also see Stefan Krempl, Professoren schlagen Alarm wegen der Urheberrechtsnovelle, Heise online, April 20, 2007