Copyright status of DIN Standards confirmed
DIN Standards are protected by copyright and may be sold for reasonable compensation in order to finance the cost of standards work. This was the judgment of the Landgericht (Regional Court) Hamburg as of 31 March 2015, giving legal backing to the financing model of private publishers of technical rules.
This clearly puts an end to the claim that technical rules issued by private standards setters and which are officially referred to in legislation can be provided to third parties for free.
In this particular case, DIN had demanded that the defendant stop making DIN Standards available on his website for free. Without asking DIN for permission, the defendant had posted a total of 56 DIN Standards - as well as a number of standards published by other organizations - on his website so that people could download them for free. Because all of these standards are referred to in laws or regulations somewhere, the defendant claimed this was not an infringement of copyright. He argued that all mandatory rules (standards as well as laws) should be available to everyone for free. He also contested the copyrightability of DIN Standards, maintaining they do not have the required threshold of originality.
However, the Hamburg court was not convinced by the defendant's arguments and ruled in DIN's favour. The judgment applies to DIN EN Standards as well, and confirms DIN's status as copyright holder.
This recent judgment confirms the great need to protect the copyright to standards. DIN Standards make daily life easier in all areas and generate significant economic benefits. But standards are also the results of hard work. All those who take part in the standardization process not only contribute their knowledge, but also a considerable amount of time and effort in the development of standards - with the best possible results and the greatest amount of legal security. In the absence of other resources, the sales of the results of standards work will continue to be the main source of DIN's financing. The Hamburg court has now confirmed that the German legal framework supports the copyright protection of standards, and that intellectual property rights must be respected.