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Licensing service for out-of-commerce works successfully launched

Press release:  8.10.2015

The German National Library has successfully launched its licensing service for out-of-commerce works (VW-LiS) as a contribution to the digitisation of literature of the 20th century. VG Wort granted use licenses for the first 352 titles in September. The German National Library can now make these works available via the Internet in digitised form.

The licensing service is also aimed at other libraries and archives which wish to use out-of-commerce works from their holdings in digital collections. Libraries submitted their first licence applications immediately after the service was launched. The German National Library was able to develop this service once the German Library Association (dbv), the WORT and Bild-Kunst collecting societies and the Conference of Ministers for the Arts and Culture had negotiated the relevant underlying agreements and had also supported concrete implementation.

"How printed texts are discerned and used in science and research depends increasingly on the extent to which they are digitally available on the Internet. A substantial number of the books published before 1966 and currently only available in the libraries can now be made accessible in modern form," said Elisabeth Niggemann, Director General of German National Library, at the start of the service. "In order for libraries to make effective use of the new regulation concerning out-of-commerce works, we have set up a service which integrates all the process steps from retrieval and requests through to licensing by VG-Wort integriert."

Robert Staats and Rainer Just, board members of VG-Wort:: "Digitising out-of-commerce works and making them available is a major concern of cultural policy which is why it is most gratifying that all parties have managed to agree on a licensing model which involves the collecting societies. This will ensure that the required rights can be issued centrally and that reasonable remuneration is paid to the rights holders."

A change in the Act on the Safeguarding of Copyright and Related Protection Rights regarding out-of-commerce works published before 1966 came into force in April 2014 (UrhWahrnG). This grants, under certain circumstances, duplication and public accessing rights exclusively for use in digital libraries. The licensing service (VW-LiS) helps out-of-commerce works to be tracked down and licences to be purchased. The process has largely been automated, minimising the amount of effort involved for all parties. The licensing service, which combines all steps from title retrieval and the issuing of requests to the collecting societies through to listing in the register of the German Patent and Trademark Office, is offered free of charge by the German National Library.

Further information


Both works were published shortly before the November Pogrom in 1938 and deal with Jewish emigration from Nazi Germany. The publications helped individuals to prepare for emigration (and, later, escape). Today they provide information on bureaucratic and other hurdles which emigrants could expect to encounter.


The German National Library is the central archiving library and national bibliography centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Besides offering use of its collections at the Leipzig and Frankfurt sites, the German National Library also provides services for libraries, the book trade and scientific institutions, plus a large number of other individual services via the Internet. The change in the Act on the Safeguarding of Copyright and Related Protection Rights which came into force in April 2014 (UrhWahrnG) regarding out-of-commerce works published before 1 January 1966 in books, journals, newspapers, magazines or in other written publications which are part of the physical holdings of the institution, grants, under certain circumstances, duplication and public accessing rights exclusively for use in digital libraries by VG Wort.

The collecting societies WORT and Bild-Kunst are two of a total of 13 collecting societies in Germany. They are unincorporated associations by charter in which authors and publishers of text and image-based works have joined forces for the common exploitation of proprietary rights. VG WORT holds in trust proprietary use rights and royalty claims for more than 400,000 authors and over 10,000 publishers in Germany. VG Bild-Kunst represents more than 46,000 German creators and publishers. Furthermore, the two collecting societies maintain key social and cultural institutions which make provisions for and support the authors and publishers they represent. In the case of VG Wort these are the 'Sozialfonds', the 'Förderungsfonds Wissenschaft' and the 'Autorenversorgungswerk'. In VG Bild-Kunst, 'Kulturwerk' and 'Sozialwerk' are independent foundations which engage in cultural promotion and provide social support. VG WORT was founded in 1958 and has its head office in Munich; VG Bild-Kunst, founded in 1969, is headquartered in Bonn. VG WORT and VG Bild-Kunst share an office in the capital, Berlin. Further information can be obtained from and

Contact for Out-of-commerce Works Licensing Service

Press contact VG WORT

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