Copyright law is currently in a state of transition. Knowing the scope of rights of use and their specific content is of vital importance, not only to private users but also in business dealings. Most intellectual achievements can be digitized these days, while instances of use are rapidly growing in number – the upshot being that the established copyright system is rapidly proving inadequate. Nowadays, digital radio and TV and the availability of works under copyright on the Internet are just as much part of a copyright lawyer’s routine tasks as are traditional license agreements for software companies, musicians and artists from all walks of life.
Legislation on copyrights has been altered radically in recent years both in Germany and abroad, for instance by implementing various EU Directives and introducing provisions on contractual copyright law. This has had a tremendous impact on the legal position of authors, commercial exploiters and consumers alike, something that is meanwhile reflected both in the wording of contracts and in the copyright infringement cases that get taken to court.
The unauthorized use of property that is protected by copyright has meanwhile become a mass offence. Copyright infringements may be unintentional or due to a lack of a sense of right or wrong, or they may be deliberate in order to gain some illegal advantage. But regardless of what caused a specific infringement – litigation is frequently unavoidable if a copyright is to be asserted. And particularly in the grey area where permissible usage borders on an infringement of rights, special expertise is required. International aspects are frequently involved as well. Globalized trade – not only through the Internet – in property that is protected by copyright frequently gives rise to cross-border legal disputes. We can give you all-round advice aimed at safeguarding your rights both at home and abroad.
Exactly how rights of use are granted is something that has to be taken into account not only in conventional license agreements, but also in a whole array of other agreements. Designing websites, drafting ASP contracts, incorporating databases – they all call for provisions on copyright that may well decide the quality of the entire contractual set-up. Exploiting works in the Internet opens up whole new distribution channels, all of which pose new legal problems. Our job is to draw up an agreement for you that is absolutely clear, safeguards your interests, and is adapted to your own particular circumstances.
More and more free licenses are to be found these days, not just for open source software but also for more conventional works provided for use under Creative Commons licenses. Anyone considering either model needs to be aware, though, that they both involve very intricate legal problems – problems on which we would be pleased to advise you.