Copy prohibited? – What could change soon

It has been decades of practice at universities that faculty members use copies of books for their lessons – whether as a handout or in the folders of the semester apparatus. This is currently being renegotiated.

With the digitization of many works, a new situation has emerged: The “digital semester literature”, in which copyrighted texts are distributed, has called critics such as the VG Wort on the plan, reject the previous (flat-rate) remuneration of such texts and one Individual invoices, in which the literature of each lecturer is considered individually.

Digital flood or literary stockpiling?

Universities, represented by the German Rectors’ Conference, see this as a bureaucratic nightmare. Following the initial refusal to sign such a treaty, a joint working group of the Conference of Ministers of Education, the Rectors’ Conference and the VG Wort was set up to work out a solution by the beginning of the 2017/18 winter semester.

Previously, many students had feared that soon there would be no download option for literature available and therefore – so the logic – to this change now as fast and as much should be downloaded as possible to create a “supply”.

However, the subject of rights of use is not fundamentally new. However, the question arises as to how this should be handled in the digital age. On the one hand, there are only a few big science publishers, which make a huge turnover with academic work, on the other hand the net allows an uncontrolled passing on of all works, as far as these are not protected by special measures.

In addition, it is about whether scientists, who often invest years of their lives in a substantial work, are adequately remunerated by the publishers.

The dream of free science

The Internet has brought with it many new publication models that are in direct competition with traditional publishers. However, a scientific landscape with mostly freely accessible publications would turn the yield model of publishers upside down and would otherwise have to reward the authors.