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Information and Documentation in the Copyright Law of the German Democratic Republic

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One may conclude this survey with the statement that the copyright law of the GDR has, no doubt, devised a number of solution in part entirely new, to the problem which was of interest to us here, namely the assessment in terms of copyright law of novel methods and techniques relating to information and documentation. But not even the URG was capable of harnessing all the problems which even now are awaiting a resolution, nor, indeed, of anticipating answers to those questions which are likely to confront us in the not too distant future. The stated goals of the copyright system of the GDR, which have been presented here in some detail, show that the primary task assigned to the URG is to foster conditions which, in the judgment of the State, will best ensure the creation of literary, artistic and scientific works corresponding to the expectations of the community. This broad overall context not only defines the contents of the so-called "socialist personality rights", but also facilitates the widest possible access to the entire cultural patrimony, as well as its use. The particular approach to the authors' "subjective copyright", used in the GDR, as a complex of 'socialist personality rights" whose property-rights-component is reduced, by and large, to injunctive relief and a claim to remuneration over which the author has scarcely any influence at all, is in itself sufficient indication that the authors have little say about the use of their works after publication, especially since the facilities for reproduction and duplication, at least in those domains which are of interest to us here, are entirely in the hands of cultural institutions belonging to the State. Even so, in order to make certain that even the author's remaining subjective rights would not be exercised by him in contradiction to the stated goals of the copyright system ("objective copyright"), Sections 21 through 31, and Sec.32, URG, have expanded the scope of "free utilization" of the work and of statutory licenses far beyond the heretofore generally accepted limits. Particularly far-reaching are the provisions relating to reproduction for purposes of information and documentation (Sec.24 and Sec.29, para. 2 URG). The express extension, under Sec.23 URG, of the freedom to reproduce, from personal use to professional use as well, seems justified, since, especially in the case of scientific works, it would be futile to attempt a satisfactory differentiation between personal and professional uses. It is only logical that a socialist State like the GDR should reject any obligation to pay royalties in this domain of "free utilization", especially where the use of scientific works is involved. It remains to be seen whether the provisions of Sec.23 URG will suffice as the only applicable norm, once reprographic copying has assumed the same dimensions in the GDR as in the West; one may, however, doubt it. The few anxious voices which have already been raised on the subject of the future of publishing in the GDR, seem to confirm this doubt. It has been shown that already now, foreign publishers can sell but a few subscriptions in the GDR, owing to the prevailing practices of reprographic copying. The GDR, in introducing the relatively well thought-out "deposit system", has quite possibly provided better for "the time after" (für die Zeit 'danach') than have many other countries. The GDR deposit system, described here in detail, may in fact represent a new version of this system, potentially capable of better satisfying the general and the special needs of the scientific community, especially in the fields of narrow specialization, than the conventional specialized periodicals. If its standards are strictly enforced, and the duplication and distribution of the so-called deposit reports runs smoothly and efficiently, this particular version of the deposit system could, in fact, bring about the lowering of production and distribution costs of the journals and reviews carrying the information articles, to a level where the reprographic copying of information articles would no longer be practised to an extent capable of hurting the publishing trade. Those interested in more detailed information would have to order copies of the deposit reports from the publishers, in any event. The GDR deposit system has, in comparison with the systems operating, for instance, in the USSR or in Czechoslovakia, or even in the West, the distinct advantage of causing less frustration to the authors. The specifications applicable to the information articles which, as a rule, are to be co-authored by the authors of the deposit reports, leave just enough space for the authors to allow them to embody their creative input in an original ("individual") presentation. The length of the deposit reports themselves offers, of course, far better opportunities of expression than the traditional periodicals. Also of note are the amendments relating to reproduction for purposes of information and documentation, introduced in Sec.24 and 29 URG. The modem scientific world is no longer imaginable without a multitude of professional abstracting and in-house information services. After having weighed all the interests involved, it appears indeed desirable that even this particular category of "utilization" of a work be subject to appropriate statutory norms, thereby eliminating the uncertainties which crop up at every step. But, as has also been noted, even the URG of the GDR was unable to devise unequivocal rules and provide clear answers on all issues. One has but to think of the many problems which arise in relation to the deposit system.

Affiliations: 1: Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law, Munich, BRD


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