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DPMA supports libraries for the blind

From 1 January 2019, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office will supervise the supply of accessible copyrighted literature by libraries for blind people – DPMA President: Visually impaired people must have equal opportunities

Press release of 20 December 2018

Munich. The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) is taking on a new task to assist people with visual or reading impairments. From 1 January 2019, the DPMA will exercise supervision over what are referred to as authorised entities pursuant to Section 45c of the Copyright Act (Urheberrechtsgesetz). Authorised entities, for example, are libraries for the blind and similar institutions, which provide accessible texts and other content for people with visual or reading disabilities on a non-profit basis.

If works of literature are protected by copyright, conversion into an accessible format (e.g. into Braille or a DAISY audio book) requires either a licence from the publisher or legal permission. For the benefit of people with disabilities, the legal permission already existing in Section 45a of the Copyright Act will be supplemented by the new Sections 45b to 45d of the Copyright Act as of 1 January. Then, libraries for the blind may produce accessible copies, make them available also online to people with visual or reading impairments and exchange them (online and offline) with other authorised entities. In return, they must pay moderate, reasonable remuneration to authors and publishers. A separate ordinance governs the care and information obligations in connection with the new authorisations and the German Patent and Trade Mark Office’s supervision of compliance with these obligations.

DPMA President: "We will exercise supervision with prudence and sensitivity."

"People with visual or reading impairments need accessible literature in order to be able to equally participate in society," DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer said and added: "We will carry out our new task with prudence and sensitivity to meet the needs of those affected." The office already supervises collective management organisations such as GEMA (music) and VG Wort (text) as well as management entities and hence has a lot of experience in practical issues relating to copyright exploitation.

The Marrakesh Directive (EU) 2017/1564 is based on the Marrakesh Treaty, negotiated within the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013. It aims to ensure a better supply of accessible literature worldwide. The German reform act and the new ordinance were published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt), part I, of 4 December 2018 (p. 2014) and of 14 December 2018 (p. 2423).

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Inventiveness and creativity need effective protection. The DPMA is the German centre of expertise for all intellectual property rights – for patents, utility models, trade marks and registered designs. As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, our office stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalised economy. Its staff of over 2,600 at three locations – Munich, Jena and Berlin – provide services for inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international protection systems further.

Last updated: 20 August 2019