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Authorized Entity under the Copyright Act

The Marrakesh Treaty on International Law stipulated that people with visual impairments and other reading disabilities have the right to free access to information. Since January 1, 2019, this right has been enshrined in the German Copyright Act.

The Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SfBS) at Dortmund University Library has been providing literature in accessible form to blind, visually or reading impaired members of TU Dortmund University since 1984. Initially, the literature was recorded on audio cassettes, but nowadays, the formats are usually digital.

The SfBS as an Authorized Entity

Since 1.1.2022, the SfBS is also registered as an authorized entity at the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) DPMA : List of authorized bodies. According to § 45c para. 3 UrhG, the SfBS as the executing authorized entity for the TU Dortmund belongs to the "institutions that provide educational services or barrier-free reading and information access for people with visual or reading disabilities in a non-profit manner".

The SfBS makes accessible full texts available on the SfBS document server. There, publishers' works are located that the SfBS has converted into electronic files with the permission of the publisher or that the publisher has provided to the SfBS as a file.

According to the DPMA, authorized bodies may

  • reproduce certain copyrighted works [1] for the sole purpose of converting them into an accessible format for people with visual or reading disabilities (Section 45c(1) UrhG), and
  • lend, distribute, transmit, or make available accessible reproductions created according to this regulation to persons with a visual or reading disability or other authorized entities (Section 45c(2) UrhG).

[1] The authorization applies exclusively to published spoken works (text and audio format), graphic recordings of musical works (sheet music), and illustrations contained in these works. It applies only to such works to which lawful access exists (Section 45c (1) UrhG in conjunction with Section 45b (1) UrhG).

Accessible Documents on the SfBS Document Server

The SfBS uses a registration procedure to ensure that only the authorized group of persons has access to the SfBS document server. The registration procedure is described on the website SfBS: FAQ.

The users of the SfBS document server prove their authorization with appropriate documents (a severely disabled ID card  with mark "Bl" or "Tbl", or a similar document,  e.g. a specialist medical certificate) and confirm by their signature that they have taken note of the general terms of use (in German). Works that have been converted to electronic files with the permission of the publishers or that have been made available by the publishers as files may not be reproduced, distributed, publicly reproduced or made publicly accessible. According to the terms of use, users of the SfBS document server are not permitted to make another copy for non-private purposes after downloading a file, to pass the file on to third parties or to use it at public events or for commercial purposes. The user is liable for any damage that may result from misuse of the file in accordance with legal regulations.

In accordance with § 2 UrhGBefStV, the SfBS, as an authorized entity, provides evidence in Sehkon (Sehgeschädigtengerechter Katalog Online) of which works have been reproduced in an accessible version. In addition to the complete bibliographic data, the file format in which each medium is available is also shown.

Contact the Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SfBS)

Gerhard Althaus (Phone: 0231/755-4006, Fax: 0231/755-4007), Birgit Köhler-Kilian (Phone: 0231/755-4052, Fax: 0231/755-4007), E-Mail: