Unlike patent and trademark rights, copyrights are acquired without registration or any special formality. They are obtained as soon as the work is created. The prerequisites of copyright protection are that the work must contain a minimum standard of personal intellectual creation and originality. German copyright law does not require novelty or priority. Examples of copyrightable creations are literary, musical, choreographic, artistic, photographic and cinematographic works, as well as television productions, representations of a scientific or technical nature, and - most recently included in the Copyright Act - computer programs. The copyright belongs to the person who creates the work. It should be noted that even if an employee who creates works under the instruction of his employer or within the arrangement of his employment contract, the German copyright laws vest the copyright in the employee makes it inalienable. The employer who wants to use the work has to acquire the right to use by contract.

Contents of copyright include the author's moral rights, exploitation rights and other rights. The moral rights mainly cover the rights to release the work to the public, to revoke a work because of changed convictions, to be recognized as the author, and to protect against distortion of a work. The exploitation rights include the rights of reproduction, distribution, exhibition, performance, public showing, etc. Even though a Copyright cannot be assigned, it can be inherited and its use can be licensed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.