Go to home page
Observatory
On infringements of intellectual property rights

Promoting and supporting intellectual property value

Menu

faq-teachers-de

FAQs on copyright for teachers

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on copyright for teachers helps teachers and students in the EU to find information on using copyright protected content in the context of education and training, particularly online. It also informs teachers and students on the opportunities copyright protection can have for them as potential creators of works within the context of education.

This initiative follows in the footsteps of the successful FAQs on copyright for consumers, which aim to help EU consumers learn more about what is legal and what is not when using copyright protected content – such as music or film – on the internet.

15 questions from consumers on copyright for all EU Member States

Answers to the FAQs are given for all EU Member States. They are available in English and/or at least one official language of each respective Member State.

Teachers’ questions on copyright

What materials can you use? What content can you share with your students? Or play in class? If you create something at school, can you enjoy copyright protection?

Click on a country in the map or select a country from the list to show the answers for the country:

 

Showing the answers for the country: Germany Read in: Deutsch | English .

 

Copyright in education in your country: main rules, exceptions and national organisation(s) that can answer your questions

1.a. Can teachers take photocopies or scan pages from books or newspapers for their students?

1.b. Where teachers are allowed to photocopy or scan, are there any particular conditions?

2.a. Under what conditions can teachers show films in class or at school in general?

2.b. Does it matter if the film is a DVD personally owned by the teacher or if the film is a recording of a television broadcast?

3.a. Can students perform a musical work or perform a theatrical play in class?

3.b. Can students give such a performance at a school concert open to a wider audience (such as parents, other students and teaching staff)?

4.a. Can music that is available for free, for example on YouTube, Soundcloud or Spotify, be used in class, including for background music?

4.b. What if the music is played from a paid subscription?

5. A teacher wants to stream a cinematographic work (e.g. a film, a documentary) online to show in class using their own paid streaming account or another video on demand (VoD) platform. Is that legal?

6. Under what conditions can teachers or students use copyright material (such as images, articles, photos) from the internet for educational purposes, such as in an assignment, presentation or in a digital learning environment?

7. How can teachers share digital copies of copyright protected educational material with their students (e.g. via the school’s intranet, by email, chatroom, cloud service) and in what form (e.g. links, attachments)?

8. How do I know if teaching material is offered legally or illegally online?

9. How can a teacher or student identify the authors and rights holders of works such as photos and illustrations they would like to use in an educational context?

10.a. Do educational establishments have licences that allow their teachers and students to use copyright protected material?

10.b. Which educational uses do they cover and where can teachers and students find information about those licensing schemes?

11. Can a teacher record their classes and use the recording to provide distance learning to other students not necessarily from the teacher’s school establishment?

12. Can a teacher create new educational content by quoting pre-existing works, adapting/modifying them, or making compilations for educational purposes?

13. Can a teacher translate a short part of a book or translate and adapt lyrics of existing songs for use in class?

14.a. If a teacher creates educational material (such as a publication, or a lecture handout), is this material granted copyright protection?

14.b. If a teacher creates educational material (such as a publication, or a lecture handout), is this material granted copyright protection?

15.a. If a student creates an artistic work (e.g. drawing, text, presentation, photo, videoclip) during the course of studies, will it be copyright-protected?

15. b. If so, will a student enjoy copyright protection over that work and what are the implications? Can, for instance, a teacher/school share it on the school’s intranet or webpage?

 

Copyright in education in your country: main rules, exceptions and national organisation(s) that can answer your questions

1) Teachers and students as creators of copyright protected works

a) In your country, where can you find general information on copyright?

General information about German copyright can be found on the EUIPO website at https://euipo.europa.eu/ohimportal/de/web/observatory/faqs-on-copyright-de.

2) Teachers and students as users of copyright protected works

b) In your country, what exceptions to usual copyright rules apply to teaching activities?

In Germany, Paragraph 60a of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) grants certain privileges to teaching as a special exception. This law sets out the conditions under which works protected by copyright may be used to illustrate lessons. In addition, other general exceptions – for example, the right to quote under Paragraph 51 UrhG – may also be applicable and allow teachers to use copyright without permission.

Legal basis: Paragraph 60a UrhG, Paragraph 51 UrhG

c) In your country, which organisation would be the best placed to answer questions on copyright for teachers and students?

In Germany, there is no central information point on copyright issues in the context of education and no central institution either.

However, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research website offers a brochure to give schools and teachers a good overview of copyright in schools. It can be downloaded or ordered from the website. Non-governmental bodies include iRights e.V. They offer the iRights.info portal which has a range of relevant information. The information was partly gathered in cooperation with educational institutions such as the DIPF Leibniz Institute for Educational Research and Educational Information and public bodies.

In addition, there are various institutions in the Bundesländer (Federal States) that offer information, among others, the various ministries of culture, e.g. for Baden Württemberg https://lehrerfortbildung-bw.de/st_recht/urheber/, and the Bundesländer media institutions .

 

1.a. Can teachers take photocopies or scan pages from books or newspapers for their students?

Yes, photocopying or scanning individual pages from books and articles from newspapers or magazines for the purpose of illustrating lessons is generally permitted in Germany. This is clear firstly from Paragraph 60a UrhG which restricts copyright for the benefit of teaching in schools and other educational establishments. This use permitted by law is supplemented by a licensing agreement concluded by the Bundesländer, which also enables schools to make use of works protected by copyright beyond what is permitted by the law. The details are as follows.

Specifically, Paragraph 60a UrhG allows teachers to reproduce up to 15% of a published work to illustrate lessons. Such a work may be, for example, a book, an essay, an illustration or a poem. The scanning or photocopying of individual pages of a book is therefore generally permitted.

However, in certain cases, limiting the permitted reproduction to 15% does not serve its purpose, for example, if graphics or other illustrations, or poems or lyrics are to be reproduced for lessons. Therefore, the law also permits the reproduction of works in full in certain cases, namely images, individual contributions from the same specialist or scientific journal, and other small scale works. Out-of-print works may also be reproduced in full. In addition to the poems and lyrics already mentioned, other small scale works can include printed works of up to 20 pages.

By contrast, the use of individual articles from daily newspapers is not permitted by law, even if they too are ‘small scale’. In addition, the law only permits excerpts from textbooks or sheet music to be photocopied or scanned if there are no readily available licences for these uses.

In order to enable further uses, that is to say uses not already permitted by law, the Bundesländer concluded a supplementary licence agreement with three collective management organisations as well as the publishers of textbooks and newspapers in December 2018. This ‘photocopying contract’* permits the use of sheet music, articles from daily newspapers and contributions from textbooks to the same extent as is permitted for the other works by virtue of a legal exception from Paragraph 60a UrhG.

*The agreements concluded in the "Photocopying contract" between the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz) and VG Wort, VG Musikedition, the publishers represented by the Verein Bildungsmedien e.V., and PMG Presse Monitor GmbH are of decisive importance for practice in schools. On the one hand, this contract regulates the remuneration for use within the framework of limits subject to remuneration, but on the other hand, it also contractually authorises certain uses. The result of this contract is that the powers arising from Paragraph 60a UrhG also apply to works that are not covered by this statutory restriction in full or only under certain conditions, such as articles from daily newspapers, sheet music or schoolbook excerpts.The agreement runs from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2022. Its provisions apply to all teachers at public (state or municipal) as well as private schools within the meaning of the school laws of the Länder and schools in the health sector.

Legal basis: Paragraph 60a UrhG, Paragraph 51 UrhG

 

1.b. Where teachers are allowed to photocopy or scan, are there any particular conditions?

See answer to question 1.a.

 

2.a. Under what conditions can teachers show films in class or at school in general?

Teachers may show films during lessons in a closed class group free of charge and without requiring permission. As a class consists of only a limited and specific number of pupils, the playback of the film is not public and is therefore permitted. The situation is different for school events that are open to the public, for example, closing ceremonies that are open to pupils, their parents and other guests. The playback of films to more than one class – e.g. on project days – may also be public. Such public playbacks of films require permission from the rights holders.

 

2.b. Does it matter if the film is a DVD personally owned by the teacher or if the film is a recording of a television broadcast?

In both cases, the screening within a class group is not public and is therefore allowed without the permission of the rights holder.

However, the way a television broadcast has been recorded is very important. The teacher may not record a television programme in order to show it in class without the permission of the rights holders. The ʻprivate’ copying exception, which otherwise often allows television broadcasts to be recorded, is not relevant here. This is because when teachers record a television programme in order to show it in class, they are not recording it for private use.

 

3.a. Can students perform a musical work or perform a theatrical play in class?

Yes, pieces of music or plays may be performed in class as this performance is not public and is therefore also not affected by copyright law (see also the answer to question 2.a. regarding the public). However, this applies only to performances within the class and not to related preparation, such as copying music or lines.

 

3.b. Can students give such a performance at a school concert open to a wider audience (such as parents, other students and teaching staff)?

For performances that target a larger public, it must be determined whether the performance is public.

A performance in front of a class of course is always possible free of charge and without the permission of the rights holders. For performances in front of a larger public, it depends on the individual circumstances of the specific performance. The larger the number of pupils and teachers entitled to attend the event, the more likely it is that it will be considered open to the public. It is also relevant whether only a clearly definable group of people, for example, the pupils, teachers and parents of one class, have access to the event or whether outsiders can also attend.

If the performance is public, the licence required for reproducing music can be obtained from the German collective management and performing rights organisation (GEMA). In this case, teachers should ask the school authorities whether they have concluded a flat-rate contract with GEMA.

GEMA can also authorise performances of music that are not on stage. When a play that uses music, an opera or a musical will be on stage, a licence for theatrical use must be obtained from the music publishers.

A licence must be obtained for the public performance of a play that is (still) protected by copyright. These are usually issued by theatre publishers.

Extracts from a piece of music or play (up to 15%) may be publicly reproduced on the basis of the statutory use permission of Section 60a UrhG for the presentation of lessons or of teaching and learning outcomes at the educational institution.

 

4.a. Can music that is available for free, for example on YouTube, Soundcloud or Spotify, be used in class, including for background music?

Reproduction of music in class is not public and is therefore not relevant in terms of copyright law. This applies also to playing music that is available free online.

However, restrictions may arise from the contract concluded with, or terms of use of, the internet platform from which the music is streamed. In that case, although reproducing the music in class does not constitute a copyright infringement, it does constitute an infringement of the contract with the internet platform. The latter may then potentially be entitled to claims for damages or injunctive relief.

 

4.b. What if the music is played from a paid subscription?

The same applies here as for free services (see answer to question 4.a.).

5. A teacher wants to stream a cinematographic work (e.g. a film, a documentary) online to show in class using their own paid streaming account or another video on demand (VoD) platform. Is that legal?

Copyright permits a film to be shown in class, as long as it is not a public showing. This is the case for showings within a class group with fixed participants (see also the answers to questions 2.a. and 3.b.).

However, the teacher should check whether the contractual conditions and terms of use of the VoD provider also allow showings in class (see also answer to question 4).

 

6. Under what conditions can teachers or students use copyright material (such as images, articles, photos) from the internet for educational purposes, such as in an assignment, presentation or in a digital learning environment?

Paragraph 60a UrhG allows the use of up to 15% of a work as well as images, individual contributions from the same specialist journal or scientific journal and other small scale works, provided that this serves to illustrate a lesson. Although it is already forbidden by law to reproduce articles from daily newspapers and sheet music, this is permitted by a licensing agreement concluded by the Bundesländer with the rights holders to the extent that reproducing the rest of the work is also allowed on the basis of the legal exception of Paragraph 60a UrhG (see also the answer to question 1.a.).

These materials may be used by pupils and teachers in a class or course. Sharing them with other teachers of the same school, for example, via the school’s intranet, is also permitted. Where appropriate protective measures (e.g. password protection) are taken to ensure that only pupils of one class or course, and teachers in the same school, can use the copyright material, use in a digital learning environment is also permitted.

Any copy protection that prevents the use, permissible per se, of materials protected by copyright must not be circumvented. In this case, however, the rights holder is obliged to provide access to the materials protected by copyright to the extent permitted under Paragraph 60a UrhG (Paragraph 95b UrhG).

Legal basis: Paragraph 60a UrhG, Paragraph 95b UrhG

 

7. How can teachers share digital copies of copyright protected educational material with their students (e.g. via the school’s intranet, by email, chatroom, cloud service) and in what form (e.g. links, attachments)?

Teachers are permitted to share digital copies with pupils under the conditions set out in Paragraph 60a UrhG (for the individual requirements of Paragraph 60a UrhG, see answer to question 6).

Teaching material can be made available via a schoolʼs digital learning platform. In addition to the works and parts of works listed in Paragraph 60a UrhG, individual press releases or parts thereof may also be made available there to the same extent as permitted by law under Paragraph 60a UrhG. This is made possible by a contractual agreement between the Bundesländer and the rights holders. Appropriate protective measures – for example, password protection – must be taken to ensure that only members of the group granted privileges in this respect – that is to say, the pupils of one class or course and teachers – can access the copyright works placed on the learning platform.

If the teacher sends the teaching materials protected by copyright to the pupils by email, then – according to the ʻphotocopying contractʼ – in addition to the materials mentioned in Paragraph 60a UrhG, individual press articles, music and extracts from (analogue) textbooks published from 2005 onwards may also be used to the same extent as legally permitted under Paragraph 60a UrhG.

Legal basis: Paragraph 60a UrhG

 

8. How do I know if teaching material is offered legally or illegally online?

It is often difficult for individual teachers to know whether teaching materials are being offered legally or illegally. In this case, the situation is no different from other areas where copyright material is on offer. As there is no acquisition of rights in good faith, the use of material protected by copyright always involves certain risks.

However, whether teaching materials were offered legally or illegally is not relevant for their further use if they are used on the basis of a legal exception (see the answers to questions 1, 6 and 7) or if they are reproduced only in class and therefore not publicly (see answers to questions 2, 3 and 5). In these cases, the teacher must (only) ensure that the terms and conditions of use of the provider of the teaching materials do not prohibit the use the teacher intends to make of them (see answers to question 4).

On the other hand, in the event of other uses, there is a certain risk of the teaching materials being offered illegally. However, this risk is rather low when using textbooks and teaching materials from large and reputable providers; teachers can generally assume that the material offered by the latter can also be used legally. This is particularly true if these materials are aligned with the actual curricula and are therefore officially approved as teaching materials.

In addition, some media libraries, such as the regional Landesbildstellen, offer films specifically for schools and educational institutions. Here too, teachers can assume that the films offered may be used legally.

Moreover, people who buy teaching materials have a right of recourse against the seller of such materials if they are offered illegally. What is a right of recourse? It means that if the person who bought the material has to pay compensation to the copyright owner, they have the right to claim it back from the person who sold the material.

 

9. How can a teacher or student identify the authors and rights holders of works such as photos and illustrations they would like to use in an educational context?

Unless the materials are labelled, it is often very difficult or even impossible for teachers and pupils to identify the author or owner of the rights of use.

 

10.a. Do educational establishments have licences that allow their teachers and students to use copyright protected material?

Yes.

 

10.b. Which educational uses do they cover and where can teachers and students find information about those licensing schemes?

The collective management organisations provide information on their websites about the overall contracts they have concluded with the Bundesländer or other partners.

Important contracts are the ‘Photocopying contract’ and the ‘Collective contract in accordance with Paragraph 60a UrhG’, which are published on the website of the Wort collective management organisation. These contracts extend the uses for teaching purposes permitted by law and also allow certain uses of sheet music, extracts from textbooks and articles from daily newspapers for teaching purposes.

 

11. Can a teacher record their classes and use the recording to provide distance learning to other students not necessarily from the teacher’s school establishment?

If a teacher wishes to record their lesson, they must ensure that the data protection requirements are met. They must therefore obtain the consent of those being recorded and, where applicable, their legal guardians.

If a poem protected by copyright is recited or any other work protected by copyright is used in the recorded lesson, the teacher must ensure that this use is permitted. By law, use is permitted, for example, for quotation purposes (Paragraph 51 UrhG) and for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche (Paragraph 51a UrhG; see also the answer to question 12).

By contrast, under the conditions set out in the answer to question 6, Paragraph 60a UrhG allows recordings of lessons in which works protected by copyright were used to be made available for teaching purposes only to pupils in the relevant class or course, and not to pupils of other schools or to the public.

Legal basis: Paragraph 51 UrhG, Paragraph 60a UrhG

 

12. Can a teacher create new educational content by quoting pre-existing works, adapting/modifying them, or making compilations for educational purposes?

a. Teachers may make compilations for educational purposes under the conditions set out in Paragraph 60a UrhG (see the answer to question 6).

b. Pursuant to Paragraph 51 UrhG, the use of published works for the purpose of quotations does not require permission and is free of charge. The quotation must serve a quotation purpose. This means that the quotation must be necessary to substantiate what the teacher is saying in their work. If the quotation can be dispensed with as substantiation, without making oneʼs own statement less comprehensible, it is not a quotation, but a mere illustration, which is not covered by the right to quote. How long a quotation may be is not fixed. The decisive factor is whether the extent of use is justified by the specific purpose of the quotation.

The quotation must be marked as such, must not be altered, and the author and source must be indicated.

In principle, all works – not just texts – can be quoted. Even images or extracts from musical and cinematographic works can fall under the quotation exception. However, here too, the focus must be on one’s engagement with the work cited. For example, an art teacher who analyses a painting in their teaching materials may substantiate their statements by citing an illustration of that painting. On the other hand, if they use images of an artistʼs paintings only to show what paintings the artist has made and do not engage further with these paintings, there is no permitted image citation.

c. In addition, published works may also be used and modified for the purposes of caricature, parody and pastiche (Paragraph 51a, Paragraph 62(4a) UrhG). The prerequisite for this is that some engagement with the pre-existing work or other reference object must be discerned. In parody and caricature, the engagement is humorous or mocking. Pastiche, on the other hand, may also contain expressions of appreciation or reverence for the original, for instance as a tribute. It is generally understood as a work that openly imitates the work of another artist.

d. Changes are permitted only exceptionally and only in the following cases: transfer to a different vocal register; use of extracts and translations, insofar as the purpose of use requires these changes. Where written works used for educational purposes are modified and the modifications are clearly indicated, changes that are necessary for illustrating lessons are also allowed without the permission of the rights holder.

(Paragraph 62(5) UrhG).

If a work has been lawfully modified, the modified work may also be used only within the scope of the legal permissions already mentioned – for example, for quotation purposes, for the purposes of caricature, parody and pastiche, or pursuant to Paragraph 60a UrhG (see the answer to question 6).

Legal basis: Paragraph 51 UrhG, Paragraph 62 UrhG, Paragraph 60a UrhG

 

13. Can a teacher translate a short part of a book or translate and adapt lyrics of existing songs for use in class?

The translation of short extracts from books is permitted as long as it serves to illustrate lessons and a translation is necessary for that purpose. A maximum of 15% of the work may be used.

The translation of song lyrics is also permitted under the same conditions. If the lyrics are minimal, they may also be used in full.

Other adaptations to the lyrics are permitted under the same conditions as the translation thereof. In addition, the changes must be clearly indicated.

Legal basis: Paragraph 62 UrhG, Paragraph 60a UrhG

 

14.a. If a teacher creates educational material (such as a publication, or a lecture handout), is this material granted copyright protection?

Yes, if it is a personal intellectual creation, the teaching material produced by the teacher is protected by copyright as a work. This is the case where there is a certain degree of idiosyncrasy, originality or even individuality, and the work can be perceived by the senses. Mere ideas or thoughts, on the other hand, are not protected by copyright.

 

14.b. Does the teacher enjoy copyright protection over the material created while they are employed by someone else? Is the teacher allowed to further use and share it?

The copyright protection initially belongs to the teacher. However, depending on the form of their employment contract or employment relationship as a civil servant, the exclusive rights of use for the protected materials may be transferred to their employer or service. This is usually the case if the teacher created the materials while fulfilling the obligations arising from their employment or service relationship. Therefore, the rights of use for works created by a teacher for teaching purposes are usually vested in the school authorities. The teacher may of course then use the work for teaching purposes. However, they cannot exploit it in other ways without the consent of their employer or service. For example, they cannot grant rights to the work to a textbook publisher.

On the other hand, the situation is different if the teacher did not create the work while performing their duties under employment or service law. This is the case, for example, when a teacher, commissioned by a textbook publisher, writes a contribution for a textbook outside their working hours. Their employer or service has no rights of use for that work.

 

15.a. If a student creates an artistic work (e.g. drawing, text, presentation, photo, videoclip) during the course of studies, will it be copyright-protected?

Yes, if the artistic work is a personal intellectual creation, it is protected by copyright (on the requirements for protection, see the answer to question 14.a.).

 

15. b. If so, will a student enjoy copyright protection over that work and what are the implications? Can, for instance, a teacher/school share it on the school’s intranet or webpage?

In this case, the student has the copyright. The school may use it and publish it, for example on the intranet or the internet, only with the student’s consent.

 

 

Disclaimer

The answers to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) were finalised on the date indicated as the status date on the website. Gathering up-to-date information from 27 Member States is an extensive exercise. While the EUIPO tries to keep the information up-to-date, new case-law or legislative reforms may impact the content of the FAQs. It means for instance that the following answers which rely on the current legislation in force in Member States, may not take into account new legislation transposing the Digital Single Market Copyright Directive (2019/790) (the Copyright Directive). Neither the EUIPO nor any person acting on behalf of the EUIPO is responsible for the use which might be made of the FAQs.

 

Back to Top

 

We use cookies on our website to support technical features that enhance your user experience. We also use analytics. Click for more information