Information on Copyright Law in University Teaching and Research

What is allowed in university teaching and research?

Explanatory video to Section 60a Act on Copyright and Related Rights


Basic Information

With the reform of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) on March 18, 2018, new legal authorisation standards were introduced for university teaching and research. In particular, Section 60a UrhG regulates how and to what extent copyrighted material may be used by teachers at educational institutions without permission. The federal states pay a lump sum to VG Wort as remuneration; for the time being, the new regulations for the permission of use are valid until February 28, 2023.

A condensed introduction is offered as a video by ELAN e.V. [1] (video with English subtitles).
The BMBF brochure (Copyright in Acadamic Work. An Overview on Research, Teaching and Libraries, BMBF 2020) is highly recommended.

In a chart ("Which materials may be made available electronically in university teaching"; see below), the most important regulations for the use of materials in higher education teaching have been graphically compiled.


Application Questions[2]

The Right of Quotation

A very well-known, legally permitted use of copyright protected works is the right of quotation according to Section 51 UrhG. The prerequisite for this is that a scientific examination of the published, cited work or part of a work (e.g. cited texts, illustrations, pictures) takes place, e.g. within the framework of a critical examination or as evidence of one's own statements. One’s own independent work must always be in the foreground; quotations must be used solely to support this. It is important that the source of the quotation is always indicated (Section 63 UrhG) and that the quotation has not been changed (Section 62 UrhG).


To whom may I make content available?

According to Section 60a UrhG works protected by copyright are permitted to be reproduced, distributed or made publicly accessible for certain recipients, i.e. the works protected by copyright may only be made available to these recipients. These are teachers, participants and examiners of the same course (These are defined as all those who attend the same teaching unit (lectures, exercises, tutorials, seminars), including guest students). It is important to note here that the materials provided may not be passed on to students of other courses.


As a teacher, may I use copyrighted material in university learning management systems or electronic required reading for the semester?

Yes, up to 15% of a work can be placed in university learning management systems or on electronic required reading lists for the semester, unless it is out of print, a small volume of work or a scientific journal article. These may even be used in full.

However, according to Section 60a UrhG, legal permission is only valid for a certain user group: Teachers, participants in the same event (including guest students), examiners and third parties, if the latter are to be presented with the teaching material, e.g. within the framework of an open house day. For this reason, it is important that only these user groups have access to the material. In the digital environment this means that access for other users must be technically excluded, e.g. by means of a password.


As a teacher, am I permitted to include copyrighted images, photos and graphics in my teaching material?

The same policy applying to texts applies to pictures: Both are copyrighted works. Section 60a UrhG allows the use of copyrighted works "to illustrate teaching and learning" (for non-commercial purposes). This means that image content can also be used for teaching and for preparing and following up lessons, e.g. by inserting it into a PowerPoint presentation. Pictures, photos and graphics are - in contrast to texts - works of limited scope and may even be used in their entirety in teaching and also in research. (...)

The prohibition of modification in Section 62 UrhG and the obligation to cite the source in accordance with Section 63 UrhG also apply to uses in accordance with Section 60a UrhG.

In the digital environment of the University of Stuttgart this means that you should make this material available in the ILIAS course of your course if possible, since the rights for using ILIAS comply with the legal requirements. This also applies to lecture recordings in which you use copyrighted material.


May I make my published research results available online?

Normally it depends on the contract with the publisher: If the publisher is granted all exclusive rights of use - which is often the case - the work itself may no longer be exploited. However, it may be possible to fall back on the statutory secondary publication right.

If you have questions regarding the right applying to self-archiving of publications (Green Open Access), the Open Access team will help you:


As a library user, may I request copies of individual works for my research?

According to Section 60e paragraph 5, libraries may make copies for their users for non-commercial purposes and send them by post or electronically by e-mail. In principle, 10 % of a work may be copied and sent. Individual articles from specialist or scientific journals may even be copied and sent in full.

The University Library offers a Local Electronic Article Delivery Service (LEA) and book digitalization service.


Further Information


[2] Summary from the BMBF-Brochure: Copyright in Academic Work. An Overview for Research, Teaching and Libraries. 2020 (see"Further Information").

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