Legal Issues in Germany

Numerous legal issues must be considered when implementing open access (OA) strategies or operating open access repositories and open access journals. These pages furnish information on the German legal framework that is relevant when implementing the OA paradigm. However, it should be noted that the content provided is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

In practice, both authors and repository operators are frequently faced with the question of what legal provisions must be observed when making documents  publicly accessible in full-text servers. In Germany, most of these provisions are to be found in, or are based on, the German Copyright Act, which is the statute most frequently consulted when it comes to OA. In this connection, the German copyright reform is of great importance for the OA movement.

By now, most publishers allow their authors to self-archive their articles in institutional repositories or on their own personal websites. However, conditions and restrictions are frequently imposed. For example, authors are often obliged to observe an embargo period between the publication date and the date on which the document is made openly accessible online. The SHERPA/RoMEO Listings provide information on the self-archiving policies of individual publishers. Many of those authors whose publishers do not yet allow self-archiving supplement their standard publishing agreements with contract addenda which enable them to provide open access to their work in parallel with publication. Such addenda can also be used to avoid embargo periods. 

In order to give authors and users of OA contributions legal certainty, such contributions should be distributed only under an open content licence. Repository operators must pay particular attention to the liability risks involved in the operation of a repository. Moreover, data protection aspects play a very important role when it comes to OA to research data.