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Provisions in the German Copyright Act (UrhG)

The German Copyright Act (Urheberrechtsgesetz, UrhG) primarily provides for two regulations that allow authors to republish their publications under certain conditions and subject to certain requirements.

Insofar as no other agreements to the contrary have been made with a publisher (usually in a publication contract, see above), authors may reproduce, distribute and make publicly accessible their publications published in "periodical collections" (usually journals) elsewhere after one year (UrhG, section 38 (1)).

There is also the so-called secondary publication right (Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht), which since 1 January 2014 has allowed authors to make scientific contributions publicly accessible under certain conditions after twelve months have elapsed since the initial publication (UrhG, section 38(4)). The decisive factor is that it can also be applied if an exclusive use right was transferred for the initial publication – which is then ineffective for the purpose of secondary publication (self-archiving). However, the law defines specific conditions:

  1. The (secondary) publication must not serve a commercial purpose.
  2. The article must have been produced as part of a research activity at least half of which was publicly funded.
  3. The article must have appeared in a collection that is published periodically at least twice a year. The article may be made publicly accessible at the earliest twelve months after the initial publication (applies to the full text).
  4. Only the accepted manuscript version of the article may be made available.
  5. The publication details of the initial publication must be stated.