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Third-party use of charts, books and other BSH products


The nautical charts, books, and other products issued by the BSH are protected by copyright. They may not be reproduced or processed, copied, or promulgated by any electronic means without the prior written permission of the BSH.

Use of the BSH’s products and/or data – and of any products/charts from private firms which have been produced using BSH data! – is only permitted if a licence agreement has been concluded with the BSH. Depending on the intended use of the BSH material, one of the following agreements has to be concluded :

•   One-time licence for single non-commercial and low-value uses

•   Free licence for repeated and long-term non-commercial uses and low-value uses

•   Licence agreements for all other uses.


One-time licences

If a BSH product is to be used on a single occasion, the BSH will issue a one-time licence free of charge subject to the following conditions: 

•   type and scope of the intended single use of one or several BSH products are notified to the BSH in writing.

•   the product for which BSH material is to be used either has no commercial value or has a low commercial value. The commercial value is deemed to be low if the licensee’s total net earnings from the sale of its products in which BSH material has been used do not exceed 5,000 Euro per year.

A product may have a commercial value although it is distributed free of charge. That is the case, for example, when earnings are not derived from product sales but from the sale of advertising space inside or on the product. Besides, a product may also have a commercial value if it is comparable to other products already available on the market. In such cases, the BSH may assume a comparable, fictitious price for the product concerned.

“Free of charge” with respect to a one-time licence means that you do not have to pay anything for use of the BSH material. However, the material as such is not available free of charge.

Typical applications 

Typical applications are, for example, the use of nautical chart sections on internet pages (to indicate, e.g., the location of a company) or in magazines, or the use of chart sections in planning approval processes in connection with offshore projects. As a rule, licenses will not be granted for published texts. Our nautical books and (free) information brochures are not available for licensing.


A one-time licence will not be granted as a matter of principle if the product for which BSH material is to be used

•   is intended for navigational purposes

•   is to be used as a training chart (e.g. in textbooks or other training materials)

•   contains tidal predictions covering more than seven days

•   constitutes an exact or very similar copy of a BSH product, or

•   is in conflict with the legal position of another Hydrographic Office.

A licence agreement must be concluded in the first and second cases referred to above. In the third case, fees will be charged according to the list of fees for digital tidal data, and in some cases a licence agreement has to be concluded. Case 4 above will not be permitted on principle, and case 5 is self-explanatory.


One-time licences can only be granted for materials whose copyright the BSH owns. If you are planning to use, e.g., a chart section showing not only German sea areas but also foreign waters, a one-time licence can only be granted for the German area. To obtain a licence for parts covering foreign waters, the national Hydrographic Office of the country concerned has to be contacted.


Free licences

Subject to certain conditions, the BSH may issue a „free licence“, for which no fees have to be paid, for repeated or long-term use of a BSH product. In such cases, a "Royalty-free Licence Agreement for Non-Commercial Uses and Uses of Low Value" has to be concluded with the BSH. Before a licence agreement can be concluded, applicants are requested to submit a completed and signed application form to the BSH.

Typical applications

Typical applications are, e.g., the use of chart sections by companies offering burials at sea, use of chart data for scientific projects, or use of charts in illuminated information displays where the locations of lighthouses or lights can be lit.

Also the issue of free licenses is always based on the assumption that the planned product has no commercial value or has a low commercial value (see above, note on commercial value.

Exceptions, i.e. cases where a free licence is not granted as a matter of principle, are the same as with one-time licenses (see above).

Here, too, “free” with respect to a free licence means that use of the BSH material is free, but the material itself is not available free of charge.

If you are planning to produce works of art using chart material showing a German sea area, please contact us and we will inform you about applicable conditions.


Licence agreements

If products of the BSH are to be used in third-party products from which earnings in excess of 5,000 Euro are derived annually, or if one of the reasons for exclusion stated under „One-time licence“ above is applicable a licence agreement has to be concluded which involves the payment of royalties. Please contact the BSH if you wish to conclude a licence agreement.



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If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Monika Woisin-Michelsen or phone +49 40 3190 - 2113

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 © 2018 Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie Last Update: Oct 27, 2017 2:25:55 PM  
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