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Additional information on §60a of the German Copyright Act - Lectures and Teaching

Additional information on §60a of the German Copyright Act - Lectures and Teaching


I. General

You may exceptionally reproduce, distribute, make available to the public or otherwise communicate publicly published and copyright-protected works or parts of works without the permission of the rightsholder.


II. Definition according to §60a of the German Copyright Act

  •  “Reproduce” means to save, scan or make copies of other authors’ work files/works.
  •  “Distribute” means to put the workpiece in material form into circulation.
  •  “Make available to the public” means to upload workpieces to a server so that students and/or research assistants can view or download these workpieces.

III. Prerequisites and examples  

1. Published, protected works

  • Scientific papers, statements, comments, books, articles 
  • Illustrations of a scientific or technical nature, such as plans, sketches, maps, tables, drawings, photographs, figures 
  • Material accompanying university lectures, talks, speeches, presentations, etc. 
  • Works that are out of print, no matter for how long they have been out of print 
  • Orphan works


  • Non-published, protected works, such as student theses, drafts, and working papers are not covered by §60a of the German Copyright Act. The rightsholder must be asked for their consent.  
  • Literary works 70 years after the author’s death, published measurement data, scientific formulas, and official legal texts are not protected.

2. Permissible extent to which works or parts of works may be used

The German Copyright Act defines the permissible extent of use as follows:

  • In the case of text pages, up to 15 per cent of the complete work may be used (all pages that are not blank and that primarily contain text have to be taken into account), in the case of cinematographic works (2 years after premiering in German cinemas), educational videos and audio recordings, up to 15 per cent may be used 
  • Full use of out-of-commerce works  
  • Full use of small-scale works: 
    • Figures; printed works with a maximum of 25 pages; musical works and cinematographic works with a maximum length of 5 minutes; music sheets with a maximum of 6 pages   
    • Isolated article from a professional journal 
    • Articles from popular magazines are not included. When using text extracts from such magazines, you may use up to 15 per cent of the complete work only or you must quote the work according to Section 51 of the German Copyright Act.

3. General prohibition of alteration of the work

  • As a general principle, you may not alter other authors’ works. Abridging or summarizing literary works is permitted by law, insofar as they serve illustrative purposes in teaching and such alterations are made clearly visible.
  • Alterations such as translations, transpositions of songs into another key, and rendering pictures into another size are permitted, insofar as they are necessary for their purpose of use.

4. Availability for a specific, defined group of participants in lectures

  • The use of the learning platform RWTHmoodle and other, comparable learning platforms is limited to the participants of individual lectures. The participants of a lecture are registered for the respective lecture (not all RWTH students or all students of a specific course of study have access).



    When videos are uploaded to YouTube, for example, the viewers are not limited to a specific group of people. Recordings of lectures that are stored on the server of the Video AG I/1 team are available to the entire RWTH university and must be restricted to the participants of a lecture.

5. Usage for illustrative purposes in teaching

The material must be provided in timely proximity to the lecture, e.g. for preparation or wrap-up of the teaching content. Accessibility is limited to the duration of the lecture.

6. Usage for non-commercial purposes

Using other authors’ works for illustration in teaching at the RWTH Aachen University is not a commercial purpose.

7. The author or rightsholder and the source must be stated at all times.



  • If you want to make works available based on §60a of the German Copyright Act, we recommend using the literature section in RWTHmoodle. Here, you can charge the university library with the digitalization and copyright examination of the required works at the touch of a button. In case you have questions regarding the literature section please send an e-mail to
  • The claim to remuneration of the collecting societies is covered by one-off payments from the federal states. Therefore, you can use other authors’ works under the provisions of §60a of the German Copyright Act for free.

8. According to § 60a sec. 1 no. 2 UrhG, lecturers and examiners within the same university are allowed to pass on materials on protected platforms among each other to the legally determined extent. In contrast to § 60a sec. 1 no. 1 UrhG, the provision of the materials is not limited to the respective event, but can be made for a longer period of time, as long as this serves the simplified preparation of lessons and is not just "in stock without a specific purpose". The purpose and the existing affiliation of the teaching staff to the university must be reviewed by the responsible persons at regular intervals. Teachers may then use the materials in their own courses in accordance with § 60a, sec. 1, no. 1 UrhG.


III. Legal advice

Please note that this notice can only provide you with an overview of the copyright situation and that it cannot substitute for individual legal advice. If you have any questions or uncertainties, please don’t hesitate to contact Department 9.0 - Legal affairs at any time. Our employees will be happy to assist you.


(Last change: 01 December 2020)

last changed on 04/28/2023

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