Using search results

All digital content that can be found in the German Digital Library must be provided with a notice about the possibilities of use, so that the users of the German Digital Library know what they are allowed to do with the content and what they are not allowed to do.

For this purpose date partners must provide either a Creative Commons licence, or a notice of legal status . The licenses or notices of legal status apply

– to the digital contents presented by the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library) as well as

– the same contents at the institutions that make these contents visible via the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek – even if they are shown at the institutions in higher resolution

The following statements explain what needs to be observed when using the terms of a licence or notice of legal status:

Creative Commons Licence

Creative Commons licences determine under what conditions and to what extent a piece of digital content identified with a Creative Commons license can be used beyond what is permitted by copyright. In order to clarify whether and to what extent digital content accessible on the Internet can be used, direct communication with the copyright holder is no longer necessary if a licence has been established in advance. This greatly simplifies creative and innovative uses. Furthermore, Creative Commons licences are internationally adapted to the respective national legal system. They are also machine-readable, making it possible to do a target search for digital content with specific licences.

The name of the licences tell users the most important conditions for using the content. The simplest Creative Commons licence only requires the author or copyright holder to be named. In addition, however, further restrictions can be made, depending on

– whether or not the copyright holder wishes to permit commercial use,

– whether edits are to be permitted or not and

– whether or not edits must be passed on under the same conditions.

The combination of these conditions results in the selection of a total of six different Creative Commons licences, which have recently been available for the German legal area in version 4.0. We also allow version 3.0 for the transition but recommend an update to the latest licence version. The following licenses in the respective version are available: 

Attribution 3.0 Germany   Details

Attribution 4.0 International   Details

Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany   Details

Attribution - ShareAlike 4.0 International   Details

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Germany   Detail 

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International   Details 

Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Germany   Details 

Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International   Details 

Attribution - Noncommercial - ShareAlike 3.0   Germany 

Attribution – Non-Commercial – ShareAlike 4.0 International   Details 

Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivs 3.0 Germany   Details 

Attribution – Non-Commercial – NoDerivs 4.0 International   Details 

Use under Creative Commons licences

Users who want to use content offered under Creative Commons licences must first check under which conditions the use of the licence is permitted. The various symbols are each marked with clear symbols that make possible a quick understanding of their permitted use and a recognition of the selected licences.

In all Creative Commons licences, the copyright holder grants certain simple rights of use free of charge in advance to all those who want to use the content. However, users only receive these rights if they comply with the conditions that the copyright holder has provided for the use of their work. This means that users can use the content free of charge but must comply with the requirements of the corresponding licence. Creative Commons licences do not in any way mean a waiver of copyrights – which would be ineffective under German law anyway.

Legal notices of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek

In addition to the various standard licences of Creative Commons, the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek provides further information on the legal status of the digital content. For example, it may be that no copyrights exist or ever existed for the digital content. This is indicated by the so-called Public Domain Mark Label, which identifies the content as a common good:

Public Domain Brand 1.0  - Worldwide free of known copyright restrictions   Details

Content can also be made a public good by the author by waiving dispensable rights:

CC0 Public Domain Dedication 1.0 - Content has been released into the public domain, also called Public Domain,  Details

In addition, it may be that rights are reserved, but the conditions under which extended rights of use can be acquired are already defined. This can be pointed out with a corresponding note:

Rights Reserved – Free Access   Details

Rights Reserved - Access by Authorisation   Details

Unknown   Details

Abandoned Work  Details

Not Protected by Copyright – No Commercial Re-Use   Details


The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek and its cooperation partners create legal certainty for users by applying the Creative Commons licences and consistently specifying how the digital content may be used and also sensitise them to the fact that the digital content is not "copyright-free": Licenced works may be used free of charge, but only as shown, i.e. within the framework of the licences' conditions.