Financing standards work - In the public interest
DIN is a private organization registered as a non-profit association. More than 70 % of its financing comes from the sales of standards and other technical publications and services offered by Beuth Verlag. Other sources include project funds from industry, public funding and membership fees.
In Germany standardization is a form of self-regulation by industry. By purchasing standards, users also ensure the private financing of standards work.
Why do standards cost money?
Everyone who uses standards enjoys a number of economic advantages:
- Improved market access - at national, European and international level
- Simplified procurement procedures
- Increased efficiency
- Staying up-to-date with the latest innovations
- Easier documentation for quality assurance
- Reduced product liability risk
- Improved product safety
- Legal certainty
Standards contain the combined knowledge of all market partners which is gathered during a fair process moderated by DIN.
By purchasing standards, standards users ensure the private financing of standards work. In fact, sixty percent of DIN's work is financed through the sales of standards. This work not only entails the development of the standards themselves, it also includes ensuring the consistency of the standards collection as a whole, harmonizing national standards with European and international standards, and continually updating standards to ensure that they reflect the current state of technology.
The cost of developing standards is thus distributed among those who gain the most benefits from them. In this way industry itself determines which standards are in line with the market - a fair approach.
DIN, the German Institute for Standardization, is not a state-run institution - as is often assumed - but a privately organized non-profit registered association, and its work is largely financed through the sales of standards. This ensures that the standards users themselves determine which standards are in line with the market. Standards are thus developed in a practical manner - for use in practice.
Laws and regulations are drawn up by governmental bodies and are financed by the tax-payers. However, DIN's work is privately organized and financed. Even where governmental bodies have an interest in standards work and provide political, staffing and even financial support for this work, the results of this work remain in the hands of a private body and are thus protected by copyright; this means that technical rules are generally not free of charge.
When a standard is referred to in legislation it nevertheless does not become a legal document and is thus not provided free of charge. This is expressly stated in Article 5 (3) of the German Copyright Act: The explanatory memorandum of 2002 relating to the Act states that setters of technical rules rely on the sales of their documents to finance their non-profit work. Thus, ensuring the financing of standards work has a higher priority than the wish to have free access to technical rules referenced in legislation.
The prices of standards are set each year by DIN's Presidial Board, which comprises representatives from private companies, consumer organizations, scientific and research organizations, public authorities, technical and trade associations, and testing bodies.
The cost of printing and selling DIN Standards is only one factor influencing the price of standards. A more important factor influencing the price is the cost of developing the standards and managing standards projects, which involves:
- drawing up documents containing the generally recognized state of technology which is gathered through the participation of all stakeholders in standardization and which is therefore highly reliable,
- carrying out a "public enquiry" procedure during which experts can comment on the published draft of a standard,
- publishing and selling new standards, for example on DIN and Beuth Verlag's various websites,
- ensuring the coherency and consistency of the entire body of DIN Standards and avoiding duplication within that body,
- harmonizing German Standards with European and International Standards, and
- regularly reviewing standards for their currency and relevancy in terms of the state of the art.
Furthermore, DIN makes regular investments in its IT systems used to optimize the standardization process and to make access to standards easier - income from the sales of standards is used to finance these investments. Examples include our in-house document management system which can be accessed by our external experts (Livelink), web conferencing software, and Internet portals providing access to standards in a specific sector at a lower cost.
More than 30,000 external experts from industry, research institutes, consumer organizations and the public sector provide the content of our standards. These experts provide their knowledge gained in practice - for general use in practice.
DIN Handbooks, online portals, standards flat rate subscriptions
Beuth Verlag offers a number of products and services giving access to standards at special rates. DIN Handbooks and loose-leaf collections are collections of standards available at a considerably lower price compared to purchasing the standards individually, see Standards Flat Rate.
When you search for a standard on Beuth webshop, any standard included in a collection is indicated by the note "Also available in". This means the standard is available in a DIN Handbook, for example, or on an online service.
DIN Standards repositories
Throughout Germany there are standards "repositories", or libraries, where the public can view standards for free. For more information go to Normen-Infopoints (German only).
The Draft Standards Portal
Draft Standards can be viewed on DIN's German-language Draft Standards Portal: www.entwuerfe.din.de (German only). The portal can also be used to comment on the drafts.
Many German associations and Chambers of Commerce have cooperated with DIN and Beuth in setting up Internet portals for their members. These portals provide access to standards in the relevant sector(s) at special conditions, such as www.din-metallbauerhandwerk.de or www.normenportal-architektur.de (German only).
All standards, including downloaded documents, are copyright-protected and may only be used at one workstation.
Customers downloading a document automatically obtain a license to use the document at a single workstation allowing them to save the document on a computer.
For some standards collections, Beuth offers licences to save and distribute documents within an internal network (Intranet). Network licences cover all language versions in a technical rule collection. For more information on network licences obtainable from Beuth Verlag go to www.beuth.de/en/theme/network-licences and for general information on copyright and standards go to www.beuth.de/en/article/noticeofcopyright.
Another means of obtaining the right to use a standard within an internal network is to become a DIN Member. DIN Members not only receive special rates for purchasing DIN Standards, they also obtain the right to copy purchased standards for use within internal networks.