3. When do you have the right to quote from sources?

The right to citation means that you can use materials (short works or portions of works) in your own work without having to request permission.

Requirements for using citations:

  • Must be from published works – not: diaries, internal documents from a company
  • The quote must serve as documentation or the basis for an explanation. This means, content of the work used must be the object of discussion.
  • The source must be named: It must clearly identified. Required information include, in particular, the name of the author and the location of the quote.
  • Only the necessary amount of material may be used. In each individual case, please consider: How broadly available is the material in which the work was used? To what extend does this usage limit the utilization possibilities of the copyright holder.

Additional information on the right to citation is available in the citation guide (in German) from the Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM).

For teaching purposes, especially § 60a UrhG is often easier to apply. § 60a defines clear limits on permitted usage. It is also sufficient that the content used is for the purpose of explaining, deepening or complementing the course content.





Is quoting an entire work permitted?

There are stricter requirements for quoting an entire work. This is known as a “wissenschaftliches Großzitat” (large citation), and it is permitted for the purpose of explaining course content (§ 51 sentence 2 no. 1 UrhG). This means, the quoted material must be used to support your own reasoning, for discussion purposes or to reference and combine statements.

Does the right to citation apply to images?

It can be possible to re-use images (usually in entirety). The condition is that the respective image must be required for an explanation and that the content included in the image should form the basis for a discussion, e.g. the image must either prove or support your own explanations. It is not permitted to use an image purely as an illustration or decorative element. The latter is, however, allowed for teaching purposes if the requirements for § 60a UrhG are met.

Does the right to citation apply to portions of films?

Yes, the same requirements as for images apply.

Does the right to citation also apply to presentation slide shows or other course presentations?

Yes, as long as you fulfil the conditions for the right to citation. You should pay particular attention to clearly stating your sources, even though it does take additional space.