Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, July 06, 2007

New German copyright law impedes research access

Stefan Krempl, German parliament passes new Copyright Act, Heise Online, July 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

On Thursday, a majority of the members of the Bundestag from the governing grand coalition and the FDP voted in favor of the government's controversial proposal (PDF file) for a second version of the country's Copyright Act for the Information Society, which includes the amendments proposed by the parliament's legal committee. Members of Parliament from the Greens mostly abstained, while members of the new Left Party voted against the so-called "second basket" of the revised Copyright Act, which will now be sent to the Bundesrat for review.

Germany's Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries (SPD) said she was pleased that "we have finally completed such an important project" and added that the amendments "make the Copyright Act ready for the digital future." In contrast, Petra Sitte of the Left Party accused the governing coalition of having "lost sight of the interests of researchers and educators." She fears that access to knowledge will become more expensive....

[Jerzy Montag of the Green Party] countered that while copyright applies to everyone, no property right is absolute; after all, all protection offered by the state "is limited by the rights of others." He feels bad the new exceptions provided for education and research are "not future-proof." Rather, he says that all educational institutions should be able to set up as many reading terminals as students need. Jörg Tauss and Carsten Müller, who handle education policy for the SPD and the CDU, respectively, also said that the new amendments leave something to be desired in this respect. For instance, knowledge promoted by public funding should also be made available to the public in compliance with the Open Access Model. Tauss says that copyright violations pose a great threat if data retention archives are open. Then, lawyers would have a "heyday" in search of offenses currently considered minor.