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Licensing service for out-of-commerce works (VW-LiS)

he change to the Law on the Safeguarding of Copyright and Related Protection Rights which came into force on 1 April 2014 added greater flexibility to the handling of out-of-commerce publications with regard to the digitisation and provision of publications on the Web. The main focus of the German National Library's holdings is on the 20th century, accordingly it has a clear interest in making use of these new options.
The DNB developed a licensing service intended to help the library itself and other institutions to search and apply for usage licences for out-of-commerce publications via the relevant collecting society (Verwertungsgesellschaft (VG) Wort) and the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).

Legal basis

Under certain conditions, regulated in Article § 51, § 52 VGG and in the framework agreement on the use out-of-commerce publications in books, VG Wort may issue a usage licence for an out-of-commerce publication: these must be items which were published before 1 January 1966 in books, specialist journals, newspapers, magazines or in other documents which are part of the physical holdings of the institution applying for the licence. The law covers the holdings of publicly accessible libraries, educational institutions, museums, archives and other facilities active in safeguarding the film or sound recording heritage. The publication in question must be out-of-commerce within the book trade, i.e. it should no longer be offered by any publisher. The framework agreement grants the holder duplication and public accessing rights exclusively for use in digital libraries, however it excludes use for commercial purposes.

Licensing and registration

VG Wort grants licences for the use of out-of-commerce publications upon payment of a fee. Before a licence can be issued for a publication, it must first be entered in the DPMA's register of out-of-commerce publications. If no objection is raised by a rights owner within the legally stipulated period of six weeks, the licence can be issued.
The registration and remuneration costs are specified in Article 7 of the framework agreement for the use of out-of-commerce works in books and in the ordinance on the register of out-of-commerce publications.

Licensing service for out-of-commerce works of the German National Library

The DNB developed a service to help privileged institutions retrieve and obtain licenses for out-of-commerce publications via the VG Wort collecting society. The preconditions for using the licensing service are that the institution be registered with the DNB for a service user account, and that the institution has signed the framework agreement.

The licencing service facilitates the tracing of out-of-commerce publications:
Usage licences can only be purchased for publications which are out-of-commerce. The DNB performs an automatic check of book trade lists to determine the availability status of its publication holdings. Institutions can determine the availability status of the publications they are planning to obtain licenses for by undertaking a catalogue search in the portal or by uploading lists of up to 1,000 titles for the DNB to process. From the search result they can click a link which takes them directly to the licence application page.

The licensing service simplifies the purchase of licences:
Once out-of-commerce publications have been identified, the licensing service allows users to apply for licences for the works in question, assuming that the minimum bibliographic requirements are fulfilled (Article § 52 VGG). The application can be made either for individual titles or for a bundled, more extensive set of titles. This is performed using the interface of the licensing service; the applications are then sent directly to the VG Wort collecting society. Upon receiving the licence application, VG Wort automatically enters all the requested works into the DPMA register.
Institutions can monitor the progress of their applications via their user account. The licence is finally issued directly by VG Wort to the institution submitting the application. Whether or not a licence has been issued or rejected can also be seen in the user account.

The process has largely been automated, keeping the amount of effort involved to a minimum for all parties. The DNB provides the licensing service free of charge.

Last update: 20.07.2016


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