The copyright guarantees the originators protection for works of literature, science and art, especially against illegal imitations by reproductions. Especially linguistic works such as writings, speeches and computer programs, works of music, works of the fine arts, including works of architecture and of applied arts and drafts of such works, photography works, film works as well as scientific or technical representations like drawings, plans, cards, outlines, charts and plastic representations belong to the protected works. This list is incomplete. It has to be examined in each single case, whether an item is in consideration to be a protected work. Only personal and intellectual creations are accepted as works in the sense of the copyright. The work has to be based on a human, creative activity. Besides, the work has to show an intellectual content. It has to show something, "that goes beyond the mere sensuous perceptible substrate, a statement or message which belongs to the area of thoughts, of the esthetical of other human stirrings and reactions. The human spirit has to be expressed in the work".
These definitions from the copyright, which give the impression of being judicial and artificial, show that the copyright is not accessible for every single work. Simple esthetical creations, such as lamps, wallpaper designs and the like are fundamentally withdrawn from the copyright protection. However, there are also other examples, where for example lamps or chairs were seen as capable of being protected in the sense of the copyright. There is no clear dividing line and it is not always judged homogeneously. The originator of a work should not rely without further ado on the fact that he enjoys copyright protection.
It is interesting that computer programs enjoy copyright protection. Sorting the programs into the copyright was disputed for years. Now it occurred by a special legal regulation.
The law assigns all rights of exploitation to the originator. The right includes especially the right of reproduction, the right of dissemination and the right of exposition as well as the right of lecture, of performance and presentation, the right of broadcasting as well as the right of reproduction by image and sound storage mediums and in radio transmissions. Editing and rearrangements fundamentally need consent.
The copyright is inheritable. Otherwise it is not transferable and it is only available to third parties by granting rights of use.
For originators in an employment specific features are applied. Here you should seek the advice of a specialist attorney.
The copyright lasts 70 years after the originator's death. So it lasts much longer than patents and other protective rights. Once the copyright protection is granted, one can benefit from it for a very long time.
The granting of the copyright does not occur by a registration, as for a patent or a trademark. The copyright originates with the creation of the work. However, the feature of copyright is only determined in a legal dispute, when the originator claims a corresponding right and the opponent contests it. Then a court has to determine, whether the conditions for the authorship are given.
The copyright law gives the originator the right to forbid third persons to use the work, especially to reproduce it. He also can grant licenses for his copyright.