In Germany, the German Copyright and Related Rights Act (Urheberrechtsgesetz – UrhG), which is still valid today, was passed in September 1965. In particular, it replaced the Law on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works of 1901 and largely replaced the Art Copyright Law of 1907. Among other things, it provided for an extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author. Germany thus became an international pioneer in the extension of copyright periods.
Along with the Copyright Law, the introduction of a standard levy on audio equipment was passed in 1965 which was to be administered and distributed by the collecting societies. A levy on audio and video recording equipment was added in 1985. This applies to recording and reproduction equipment with a certain playing time and capacity. Since the form of reproduction is irrelevant in this regulation, authors and performing artists also receive levies on digital reproductions. These standard levies are collected by the collecting societies and distributed to professionals. Public lending rights were first introduced to the general Copyright Law in 1972 (Article° 27).
The Amending Law on Copyright came into effect on the 10th September 2003, which began to implement the European guidelines on Copyright in the Information Society (2001/29/EU). It makes, inter alia, the evasion of copyright for commercial and private purposes a punishable offence (§§ 95 a ff. UrhG). Further elements of the revision are the clear definition of Internet Law, in terms of Right of Public Accessibility in § 19 UrhG, and the retention, in principle, of the system of payment for private copying. It also contains adjustments to take account of the new technological developments, in particular of the digital use and distribution of artistic, literary and scholarly and scientific works.
A new reform of Copyright Law (the so-called second tranche) was passed by the Bundestag in July 2007 and continued the work on fully implementing the EU guidelines on Copyright in the Information Society (2001/29/EU). After long and intensive arguments between artists’ representatives, the users, as well as the appliance industry, a compromise was reached. Afterwards, the lump-sum payment system, which adjusts charges to include a levy for private copying was reformed so that in the future, the rate of duty will be independently negotiated by the collecting societies and appliance industries. In 2009 and 2010, public debate about a restructuring of the Copyright Law intensified not only due to the new possibilities of digital production and reproduction; a “cultural flat rate” was discussed but not adopted.
In October 2012, the federal government proposed an Eighth Amending Law on Copyright. It would extend copyright for (exerting) performers and phonogram producers from 50 to 70 years. In addition, for joint productions, this period would be universally set to 70 years after the death of the longest living creator / originator. This amendment would implement an EU Directive. With the Law on orphan and out of print works the national parliament transposed the EU directive 2012/28/EU into national law in June 2013.The ancillary copyright for publishers was adopted in March 2013, which allows publishers to demand licences for any use of their articles made by third parties. In October 2015 the national ministry of justice and consumer protection presented a ministerial draft of a “Law of improved enforcement for the right of equitable remuneration for originators, authors and practicing artist“.
In November 2015 the German Cabinet adopted a draft of the Collecting Societies Act to transpose the EU directive 2014/26/EU for the collective defence of the copyright and related rights and the granting of the multirepertoire licenses for rights on musical works for the online use in the internal market and the amending of procedure concerning the remuneration of technical equipment and storage media.
In March 2018 the Copyright Science Society Act (“Urheberrechts-Wissenschaftsgesellschafts-Gesetz”) came into force. It newly regulates which acts of use under copyright law are legally permitted in the field of education and science without requiring the consent of the authors and other rights holders (so-called copyright limitations).
In April 2019 – after two and a half years of intensive discussion – the Copyright Directive was adopted, in which the copyright regulations were adapted for the digital market. The ancillary copyright law for press publishers and the copyright responsibility of platforms were particularly discussed. It also contains numerous new regulations on publisher participation, copyright contract law, digital use in the educational sector and the availability of out-of-print works.