General copyright conditions of Open Access publishing in KartDok


1) First publication of original contributions
2) Second publications
3) Licence choice: KartDok licence or Open Content licence?
4) Support and contact


1) First publication of original contributions

While, from a copyright point of view, the first publication of original contributions in KartDok is generally unproblematic, questions regularly arise about the permissibility of second publications of contributions that have already appeared in printed or electronic form in monographic collections, including festschrifts, encyclopaedias, congress volumes and handbooks as well as subscription journals, yearbooks and newspapers.


2) Second publications

2.1) Pre-checking of an already existing publication under a free licence
2.2) Publisher contracts
2.3) Publisher policies
2.4) Copyright and legal second publication right
2.5) Open Access rights in alliance, national and FID licences
2.6) Clarifying second publication rights


In order to check, if your publication may be published a second time, you first have to resolve the following questions:

  • Which is the legal basis of this specific case?
  • Which version (e.g. preprint, postprint or publisher version) may when (e.g. after a so-called embargo period) be published a second time?
  • In which kind of repository (e.g., institutional repository or subject repository such as, for example, KartDok) may the contribution be republished?
  • Which further restrictions have to be observed?

Fundamental legal basics and aids that can give answers to these questions, are briefly introduced in the following.

2.1) Pre-checking of an already existing publication under a free licence

In case the first publication or a second publication has already been published under a free licence, a second publication in KartDok normally is not excluded. First the following questions should be resolved:

  • Was the first publication published under an open licence, e.g., a CC-BY licence?
  • Have you, as the author of a Closed Access publication, already published a second publication and was this published under a free licence (e.g., a CC-BY licence)?
  • Have co-authors of this Closed Access publication already published a second publication (members of some research institutions, for example, have to proceed to the second publication of the accepted manuscript version of a journal article directly after publication – sometimes under a free licence, e.g., a CC BY-NC licence)?

To answer these questions, Open Access publications in repositories can be found, among other possibilities, with the help of these search engines:

  • BASE (large index, only permanent data sources, simple & advanced search, filtering search results; no deduplication of different versions)
  • Dissemin (large BASE index, simple & advanced search, filtering search results)
  • CORE (large index, simple & advanced search, filtering search results; on start page at first only simple search – there no search for title or DOI)
  • Open Access Button (large index, simple search)
  • Google Scholar (large index, deduplication of different versions; no advanced search, limited options for filtering results, proprietary service: ranking algorithms and reasons for non-/indexing non-transparent)

2.2) Publisher contracts

The publisher contract may contain an agreement, which rights of use you as the author granted to the publisher and whether or on what conditions a second publication is possible. The publisher contract that was concluded with you for the first publication is binding.

  • The publisher contract (or Copyright Transfer Agreement) is transmitted mostly in electronic form and is not necessarily signed by you.
  • If there is a written contract, it is important to check the contract with regard to the rights that were granted and possible explicit provisions concerning the authors’ second publication rights (also “sharing rights“, “deposit rights“, “self-archiving rights“).

Once a relevant passage is identified, you should not yet stop checking the rights at this point – not even if the contract allows a second publication. It may be possible that because of overall regulations and agreements a second publication may be possible under other and possibly even better conditions (mainly concerning the version and the embargo period).

2.3) Publisher policies

If you should no longer be aware of the terms of the contract, you can research them, as described in the following, on the basis of publisher policies. Please note that any specific agreements of your respective publisher contract differing from the publisher policy remain unaffected in any case.
  • Mainly regarding journals, the online database SHERPA/RoMEO provides a quick overview which publishers and journals under which publisher terms allow non-commercial second publications:
    • Are second publications allowed?
    • Which version of the article may be published a second time (preprint, postprint, publisher version)?
    • When after the first publication can the second publication be published (so-called embargo period)?
    • Furthermore, conditions and links relating to the publisher policy or the standard contract are listed in the section “General Conditions“.
    • Information in SHERPA/RoMEO is legally non-binding and not always up-to-date – however, it provides kind of a first orientation what the respective publishers usually allow (publisher policies).
  • For checking the rights on the basis of publisher policies, the overview of the University of Cambridge can also be consulted regarding contributions in compilations (book chapters).
  • Moreover, international big publishing houses have often published their policies for second publications on a central web page; if necessary, these web pages of many big publishing houses can be found via the web page (see under: "Publisher Sharing Policies").
However, copyright provisions related to monographs are often more restrictive: in general, they can only be republished in a repository such as, e.g., KartDok, when there is the permission of the publisher of other third parties to whom rights to the work were granted.
  • For this purpose you should consult your respective contract and/or contact the publisher or other third parties to whom rights to the work were granted.
  • If you have waived all exploitation rights, you would have to obtain for your files a written consent from the publisher or other third parties, to whom rights were granted. The document should specify the licence that you intend to use for your work or which is granted by the publisher (for this see also pt. 2.6).

2.4) Copyright and legal second publication right

(a) Negotiable second publication right

If no explicit publisher contract was concluded, then the provisions of paragraphs one and two of § 38 copyright act (UrhG) amended with effect from 1 January 2014, have to be considered in the first place. They are relevant for contributions in journals and yearbooks (§ 38, para. 1 UrhG) and for non-commercial contributions in non-periodical monographs (§ 38, para. 2 UrhG) – for instance handbooks, encyclopedia, festschrifts or congress volumes.

  • According to this norm, the publisher, in case of doubt, obtains indeed an exclusive right of use for the copying, distribution and public accessibility of the respective work. Neverthless, you are allowed to republish your contribution after the end of a twelve-month embargo period elsewhere and this also includes second publications in KartDok – unless otherwise agreed upon with the respective publisher or other third parties.
  • For a second publication on the basis of paragraphs one and two of § 38, copyright act (UrhG), the publisher version may be used and it can be published at any place, for any desired purposes and, if desired, a free licence can be used.

If, on the other hand, a different agreement was made regarding the rights of use, or the wording of an agreement is unknown or there is no information whether the agreement was made, it is not possible to make recourse to paragraphs one and two of § 38, copyright act (UrhG).

(b) Non-negotiable second publication right

For scientific articles the provisions of para. 4 of § 38 copyright act (UrhG) can be relevant - regardless of what has been agreed in the publisher contract.

  • Should your scientific article have been written in the context of a research activity that was at least 50% publicly funded and published in a periodical, at least bi-annual, publication, then you can benefit from the amended limitations to copyright in § 38, para. 4 copyright act (UrhG), valid since 1 January 2014.
  • You may have granted to a publisher an exclusive right of use related to such a contribution and conluded other agreements to your disadvantage. Nevertheless, you are -on the basis of this norm - free to make the work publicly accessible after a period of twelve months after the first publication, namely in the accepted manuscript version – but not in the publisher‘s layout. This is possible as far as there is no commercial purpose and the source of the first publication is indicated.
  • In this context please also observe the FAQ for non-negotiable second publication right (DE) worked out by the Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen as well as the respective recommendations of the iRights.Lab (PDF, 251 KB) (DE), they provide a good overview of specific questions regarding the limitations to copyright (§ 38, para. 4 UrhG).

In addition, please observe that the limitations to copyright (§ 38, para. 4 UrhG) related to the version and the embargo period for journal articles are sometimes more restrictive than the general publisher policy (see pt. 2.3) or the negotiated special rights in the context of a licence agreement (see pt. 2.5).

2.5) Open Access rights in alliance, national and FID licences

Irrespective of what is possible according to the German copyright law you can, if necessary, use those Open Access rights to your work that were agreed upon in the context of the so-called alliance, national and SIS licences. These Open Access rights (DE) offer relatively favourable conditions for the second publication and mostly apply to various international journal packages, including their contents.

  • Available alliance, national and FID licences may include Open Access rights that are fixed in a contract for all licence users – institutions and their authors. These Open Access components grant to these - thereby authorized - authors specific Open Access rights for a second publication. Therefore, authors at scientific institutions that are licence users of alliance, national and SIS licences can, provided that such licences were assigned, without any further negotiations with publishers republish their publication – possibly in KartDok.
  • For the journal, in which you published your publication for the first time, you should briefly check the following points regarding Open Access rights. For this purpose you can use the exhaustive overview of all alliance and national licence packages containing Open Access rights (DE) that covers all disciplines:
    • Journal: Is the journal included in the alliance and national licences (column „Zeitschrift“ or column „Produkt“)?
    • Year of this journal: Were Open Access rights assigned to the respective year of this journal licensed with (column „Jahrgänge mit OA-Rechten“)?
    • Embargo period: If there is an embargo period, does it allow for the Open Access components of the journal (column „Embargo“) a second publication at the current moment?
    • Second publication in a subject repository (e.g. KartDok): Do the Open Access rights for this journal allow a second publication in a subject repository (column „Repositorium“ –relevant entries are: „Repositorium nach Wahl“, „Fachspezifisches Repositorium“ or „Nicht-kommerzielles fachspezifisches Repositorium“)?

2.6) Clarifying second publication rights

If checking the rights does not provide a result or only some unclear information, it is recommended to contact the publisher  – with the aim to obtain unambiguous information and, if necessary, a legally binding permission from the publisher regarding the republshing of a specific publication. The inquiry should contain information on the following points:

  • Complete bibliographic information
  • Purpose of the inquiry
  • Type of use (naming the desired version)
  • Where the second publication is planned to be published, if necessary, explaining the (non-commercial) character of the repository
  • If the second publication is planned to be published under a free licence, the kind of licence should be indicated
In order to support your request to the publisher (or the rightholder) for the purpose of republishing in KartDok we offer a recommendation letter, that you may attach to your request: KartDok-Empfehlungsschreiben (PDF, 121 KB) (DE).


3) Licence choice: KartDok licence or Open Content licence?

3.1) KartDok licence or Open-Access as part of an alliance or national licence
3.2) Open Content licences


3.1) KartDok licence or Open-Access as part of an alliance or national licence

When uploading the document on our server as well as on the basis of the written publishing agreement (PDF, 945 KB) (DE) you grant KartDok a simple right of use for copying, distributing and making available your work to the public on the internet and, in additon to this, also the right, especially for archiving purposes, to modify the respective data format.

In the context of public availability, the use and copying of your contribution published in KartDok by third parties, however, is only possible within the limitations provided for by German copyright – especially regarding copying for scientific, private, and other personal uses (§§ 53, 60c, 60d UrhG).
KartDok offers different licences:

  • KartDok licence (all rights reserved)
  • Open Access as part of an alliance or national licence (see 2.5)

3.2) Open Content licences

Should you also be interested in a further use of your work, KartDok recommends – in accordance with the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany („Appell zur Nutzung offener Lizenzen in der Wissenschaft“) (DE) – to assign a Creative Commons licence, with which you can publish your contributions in KartDok, e.g. for processing and distributing by third persons.

KartDok offers the following Open Content licences:

Please note that the assignment of Creative Commons- or other Open Content licences, as a general rule, is only possible for first publications in KartDok and also for those works for which you hold an exclusive right of use.

In all other cases it is necessary to obtain the consent of the respective publisher before a free licensing (see 2.6).


4) Support and contact

On request KartDok staff will be happy to answer your questions regarding Open Access publishing. Please use our contact form.

Irrespective of whether or not you use our consulting service: before publishing in KartDok you are obliged to make sure that you hold the rights of use that you grant to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, especially regarding the public availability of your work. KartDok retains the right, among others, in cases of criminal relevance, to block the access to already published documents.

Please note that the information given here is no legally binding information and the contents presented on these pages is mainly intended to provide a first orientation. The KartDok Team has carefully checked the information on these pages, but is in no position to give any legally binding information.