Copyright: What is allowed in University Teaching and Research?


Basic Information

With the reform of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) on 18 March 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; the new regulations for the permission of use are valid immediately until 28 February 2023.

A condensed introduction is offered as a video by elan e.V. [1]: (with English subtitles: The BMBF brochure (Urheberrecht in der Wissenschaft). An overview for research, teaching and libraries. BMBF brochure, 2019.

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 (

If you prepare your lecture notes and other contributions according to this handout and the additional information and make them available to the students in ILIAS in a password-protected manner, you can assume that the corresponding legal requirements have been met. In the case of using systems and services other than those provided by the University of Stuttgart, the University of Stuttgart does not take any responsibility for this.


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
§ 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 (§ 63 UrhG) and that the quotation has not been changed (§ 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 § 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. § 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 § 62 UrhG and the obligation to cite the source in accordance with § 63 UrhG also apply to uses in accordance with § 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 secondary publications, the University Library will be happy to help you:


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

According to § 60e Abs. 5 UrhG, 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 has been offering a local electronic essay delivery service for some time

(LEA-Service), as well as the book digitalization service: or


Further Information



[2] Quotes from the BMBF-Brochure: Urheberrecht in der Wissenschaft, 2019 (see further information below).