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Copyright reform criticised for not going far enough

Proposed reforms to Germany’s copyright law are not enough to alleviate the problems faced by researchers using copyrighted material, according to the country's science organisations.

The reform of Paragraph 52a, which sets out copyright laws in Germany, needs to include a “threshold” of fair use that applies to all scientific and teaching work, according to the Alliance of Science Organisations. The proposal issued by the German government last month does not provide enough clarity on what constitutes fair use and how far the legal definitions can be stretched, the alliance said.

In a statement issued on 1 December, the alliance’s members said that the government must take into account the needs of students, researchers and professors, rather than focusing on the creators of copyrighted material. By creating a German policy for fair use that applies to all materials, the government could prevent uncertainties among academic staff about copyright and the legal issues arising from it.

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