Copyright is perhaps one of the most well-known and most widely used intellectual rights. Anyone who is creative is confronted with copyright. The scope of application is therefore very broad: any “work of literature or art” can be subject to copyright protection. For example, paintings, photographs, drawings, literature, film, music, but also web pages, furniture design, syllabi, choreographies and computer programs … may be eligible for copyright protection. Thus, the objects that can be protected by copyright do not belong exclusively to the domain of art and culture.
Copyright ensures that your creations are protected and that you are entitled to compensation for the use of your works. Contrary to what some people think, every work created by someone is automatically (i.e. automatically, without you having to do anything) and free of charge already provided with the copyright and not only after the copyright has been applied for somewhere or after a text has been provided with the copyright symbol (©).
Before one can get this protection, there are always some conditions that have to be met. Copyright protection is only offered to concrete and original forms, whereby only that concrete and original form (way of expression) is protected. Thus, copyright does not protect ideas, thoughts, principles, methods, theories, concepts and opinions in itself.
Copyright is typically a jurisdiction where complex disputes may arise. As mentioned above, a work must be sufficiently original in order to obtain copyright. But when exactly is a work sufficiently original? Or when can I use material that is itself protected by copyright? Or how do I prove that I am the only, real author of a certain work?
Transfer of copyrights
The copyrights of a copyrighted work consist of moral rights on the one hand and property rights on the other hand. The moral rights are specifically related to an author’s reputation and integrity. These rights are intrinsically linked to the author’s person and are therefore non-transferable. A contract in which moral rights are transferred to third parties is therefore not valid.
Property rights provide the author with income. Indeed, he receives an exclusive right to market the copyrighted work. By default, property rights are divided into two categories: the reproduction right and the right of communication to the public.
These rights can, however, be transferred to third parties. For this, however, a written agreement must always be drawn up, which must contain a number of mandatory particulars.
With an exploitation agreement, or license agreement, the author transfers the use of his copyrights to a third party. The licensee hereby receives a right of use of the copyrighted work. Contrary to the transfer of rights, the author thus retains all rights to his work. If you grant a right of use to a single person or company, we speak of an exclusive exploitation agreement or license agreement.
If you want to use multiple players, it is best to use a general or non-exclusive license. With such a general exploitation agreement, the right of use can be split up, with each licensee obtaining a separate right. Such an agreement is also referred to as the specific license agreement.
The royalty agreement belongs to the category of exploitation agreements, whereby the author of a copyrighted work grants a right to a third party to produce his work in exchange for so-called ‘royalties’. This is the name given to the periodical remuneration that an author receives for granting a right of use to someone else.
The classic example of a royalty agreement is the one concluded between a publisher and the author of a book. But a royalty agreement can also be drawn up for music, films or other copyrighted works.