Lesson planning

Copyright in teaching

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§51 UrhG (Right to quote), §60a UrhG (Teaching and instruction)

The Copyright Knowledge Society Act (UrhWissG) came into force on 1 March, 2018. During the reform of the Copyright Knowledge Society Act, the copyright provisions that are particularly important for the field of teaching were revised.

The so-called barrier provisions restrict copyrights and allow you to use third-party works that are not under a public license for certain purposes without the author's consent, provided that certain conditions are met. For example, the source must be acknowledged (§63 UrhG), and the prohibition of alteration § 62 UrhG) must also be observed.

The restrictions include, for example, the Right to cite (§51 UrhG) and Teaching and instruction (§60a UrhG).
Another option for using copyright-protected works are open educational resources, which allow use under a specific license (Kreutzer & Hirche, 2017). Internal link opens in the same window:More information of open educational resources.

Please note: The information on this page does not constitute legal advice.

  • Electronic provision of materials in university teaching The Osnabrück University chart below shows you which materials you may and may not make available electronically in university teaching. When making materials available electronically, you must observe the prohibition of alteration and the need to cite the source.

Copyright in teaching

The copyright law

The Copyright Act protects authors of "personal intellectual creations" of "literature, science and art" (Copyright Act §1 and 2). An author of such a work therefore has the right to decide on the use of his work, for example on its reproduction and posting on the web. It is also not permitted, for example, to distort the work (Kreutzer & Hirche, 2017, p. 13).

§60a Teaching and instruction

For non-commercial purposes, you may use up to 15 % of a published copyright-protected work for teachers and participants of the respective course (e.g. reproduce, make publicly accessible).

This means:

  • you may not make a complete textbook available for your students to download in FELIX.
    The 15% rule also applies to press products such as popular magazines and newspapers, or the right to quote may apply.
  • However, the following works may be used in full:
    • Individual articles from specialist journals and scientific journals (but only one complete article per issue)
    • illustrations
    • Small works: e.g. text < 25 pages, films and music < 5 minutes
    • Out of print works

Limited provision for lecturers and participants of the respective course

§51 Citation

The right to cite makes it possible to cite protected works, i.e. to use them as a citation in your own work. Examples: Text citations in term papers or scripts, illustrations in presentations.

Provided that the purpose of the citation is stated, it is generally permitted to cite from all works (i.e. film, music, illustrations, text). A citation purpose exists, for example, if there is a clear connection between the content and the citation (Kreutzer & Hirche, 2017, p. 51), e.g. if the citation is needed to support your own explanations. A discussion of the content of an image also justifies the purpose of a citation. Using another person's image merely to visually enhance your own presentation does not constitute a citation (ibid., p. 51).

The scope of the citation must also be justified - however, there are no specific details on this, but it is a question of the relationship between the own work and the work to be cited. A rule of thumb could apply: Your own work must always be in the foreground (ibid. p. 51f) .

Do not forget to cite the source for quotations of any kind! The prohibition of alteration § 62 must also be observed: The content of the work may not be changed. It is permissible to change the size of illustrations, and abbreviations of a text quotation are also permissible if they are identified.

Effects of the changes in the UrhWissG on interlibrary loan libraries

Specifications for interlibrary loan requests in libraries are now set out in § 60e (5).

Please note the following changes:

  • Interlibrary loan libraries may now only supply copies for non-commercial purposes. You must therefore confirm that you are using the ordered copy for a non-commercial purpose when ordering. If you order via our online catalogs, you can confirm the non-commercial use directly there.
  • The delivery of copies from published works is limited to 10% of the work.
  • The ordering/delivery of copies from newspapers and so-called 'newsstand magazines' (e.g. Stern, Focus) as part of interlibrary loan is no longer permitted. The interlibrary loan of journal articles is only permitted for "specialist journals and scientific journals".
  • Interlibrary loans from historical newspapers are only permitted if the copyright of the ordered article has already expired, i.e. 70 years after the death of a known author or 70 years after publication if no author is specified.
  • Delivery to users on individual order within Germany is now permitted without any restriction on the form of delivery, so that electronic delivery would also be possible. However, until the technical adjustment has been implemented, delivery to end users will continue to be exclusively in the form of paper copies.

Support for HFU members

The Libraries and the Learning Services Department will be happy to support you in adapting your events to the legal requirements: urheberrecht(at)hs-furtwangen.de


Further reading and further information

Concrete examples

The e-learning working group at TU Darmstadt provides you with example scenarios and legal considerations on specific issues.
To the examples


Your contact persons

Are you also active in teaching and would like support and exchange?

Please get in touch with our Learning Services team: Email application is started:learning-services(at)hfu.eu