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"work made for hire" and German Copyright Law

Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:17 am
by Anna

As far as I'm concerned, there's no total buy-out case in german copyright law as the case of "work made for hire" in the US copyright law. If I hire germans to make products for me, how can I have the authorship of the product? Will a contract build unders US law achieve this goal?

Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:14 am
by AndyJ
Hi Anna,

German copyright law was framed under the droits d'auteur principle which also applies in France, Italy and several other European countries. As the name implies, this approach strongly favours the economic and moral rights of authors of copyright works. In many instances such rights are not permanently transferable in law.

However there is a difference between authorship and ownership of such rights, and the latter can be assigned or licensed. So to achieve the sort of control over the economic rights you would like to have, you need to draw up a contract or licence to that effect which is acceptable under German law, for use with any supplier there. The licence can be exclusive or preferably, sole, meaning that the author would be excluded from exploiting their work separately and concurrently during the term of the licence Clearly the other party needs to be willing to sign such an agreement, but that would apply where ever a contract was to be made. And assuming that the German collaborator is happy with the terms it would unlikely that it would be necessary to revoke it at some later stage. This method would not affect the author's moral rights, for instance to be credited as the author if they chose to assert this, and the term of the copyright would still be based on the lifetime of the author plus the post mortem element (currently 70 years). However a properly constructed contract or licence should give you the certainty necessary for any commercial enterprise based on a copyright work, and it has the advantage of being cheaper than buying the copyright outright, if you only need to be able to exploit it for a fixed or relatively short period of time.

Posted: Fri Oct 07, 2016 3:23 am
by Anna
Hi Andy,

Thank you very much!