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Wednesday, 20 July 2005


Heise Online reports on the uncertain future of a German research exception to copyright. Under s.52a of the German Copyright Act, teachers and scientists are allowed to make "small parts" of works "publicly available" via the Intranet to "certain circumscribed circles of persons - participating in lessons" or "for the sake of their own scientific research." The section has a finite lifespan, as it is expressly said to apply until 2006 following a campaign when the Act was amended in 2003 by the German Publishers´ and Booksellers´ Association. Unless the 2006 time limit is repealed or extended, or a new provision is drafted to meet this situation, the s.52a exception will disappear. The “Copyright for Education and Science" campaign, a pressure group spearheading the campaign to keep the exception on the statute book is fearful that if a general election is called in Germany, this provision will not get the attention it needs by 2006.

The IPKat as a rule favours the advancement of knowledge and, as a rule, tends to favour sensibly drafted research exemptions. He hopes that the exception lives on and thinks that if copyright owners find that it is being abused, it is up to them to enforce the correct limits of the exception, rather than threatening the exception’s continuing existence.

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