Sports law in Germany

Sport Law is our passion and we have the pleasure to offer secure legal solutions for athletes, clubs, promoters, associations and other institutions. We evaluate your questions both form an economic and tactic point of you, trying to do our best in order to achieve great results, together.

Sport has to be clear and transparent. For this reason, compulsory and enforceable regulations are so important. This is what we stand for!

From a legal point of you, there is no other field of law, that describes clearly and distinctly the sector of sport law. Various sports have different regulations (national and international) and they are not equally applicable in each case to all parties. In addition the regulation of every sport, we also need to deal with the respective state´s law. Sport Law includes also cases of alleged manipulation and doping.

We are expert in sports law, especially in the following key points:

  • legal counseling and representation of athletes, sports organizers, sports federations and league providers, as well as the corresponding formation of all related sport agreements;
  • legal advice and representation in the context of sponsorship agreements, authorization assignment, league statutes, association and society agreements, etc.;
  • Development and testing of sport club’s articles of association, sport association charter and statutes, sponsorship agreements, marketing agreements (all media), sports rights agreements, sports license agreements, sports agency agreements, sports events agreements, sports organizers contracts, sports equipment contracts, horse contracts etc.;
  • Legal consultation and representation of gamer managers, sports managers, sports company consultants, sports marketers, and sports sponsors;
  • legal advice and representation before national and international sporting courts, as well as national courts and association or association courts;
  • legal advice and representation in doping procedures, cross-disciplinary proceedings as well as in cases of competition barriers, transfers etc.;
  • In the light of personal commitment, we also advise in the area of ​​animal rights, in particular, equestrian clubs, horse sport associations, horse breeders and horse owners, as well as private and professional riders and veterinarians (including horses and horse doping);
  • sports law advice in connection with the associations ‘creations, the drafting and alteration of statutes, the divestment of economic business operations, sponsoring contracts and business agreements (including TV rights);
  • prosecution of product piracy, infringements of sports law, trademark infringements, copyright infringements, violations of the right of self-determination with regards to public information, legal infringements in connection with verbal and image journalism.

International copyright law

Copyrights apply and are effective also internationally. This follows the principle of territoriality and the so-called “Lex loci protexionis”. Copyright infringements are ruled by the laws of the respective country. The national rules of this state determine the development, content and scope of the copyright. The author receives a copyright only in the respective state in which it exists according to its regulations. Foreigner’s provisions may differ from the national ones. If, for example, a copyright infringement is asserted in another state before a German court, then it must also be stated how this copyright has been created and infringed in regards to the legal ordainments of the state. The German court therefore has to apply the law of the foreign state (because of the “lex loci protexionis” principle).

Is there an internationally recognized copyright? 

No; instead, there is a large number of international copyright agreements, such as the Berne Convention (RBC or RBÜ, as it is called in Germany) of 1886 and the TRIPS of 1994; both are actually the most important international copyright agreements. The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) also represents one of the most important international agreements. This regulates copyright´s matters in order to keep the RBC up to date. The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) covers related rights of performers and phonogram producers separately. 

What does the Berne Convention regulate? 

The Berne Convention (Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works) was last updated in 1979. Accordingly to Article 5 of the RBC, each Contracting State must recognize the protection of works of its own citizens. However, this has the consequence that the foreign author can be entitled to different rights in the different country, as these are differently regulated in the respective target states (contrary to the “lex loci protexionis” principle).  Nowadays, about 158 states have joined the RBC. Subsequent international agreements generally allow the RBC to be considered at least “supplementary” to the state territorial provisions.

What does the TRIPS include?

The TRIPS is an annex of the WTO provisions. Any State that wants to join the WTO must also ratify TRIPS.  Currently, the WTO and TRIPS have about 149 members. However, copyright is not the only aspect that is regulated by these agreements; they also concern the basic features of a free trade economy, while maintaining all IP rights, including in particular the technical property rights and ancillary copyrights. In addition, the member states may develop their own fundamental limits of protection.

Which effect do international agreements have?

Just like any simple contract, international agreements only work between the contracting parties, in this case, the countries that have signed them.

German art law

Art law regards all manifestations of art, such as visual arts and cultural arts (theater, opera, serious music, etc.).

The designation of “artistic rights” is abstract, as there is no authorized art act or art law in the German legal system. The term “art law” itself, however, bundles the legal issues and solutions that are fundamental for artistic workpieces.

Art law can accordingly stand for all those art-relevant decisions, norms and areas of law. Thus, art law includes parts of the Civil Code (BGB), the Commercial Code (HGB), the Copyright Act (UrhG), the Penal Code (StGB), Competition Law (UWG) and other laws. The following legal issues are really common in German “Art Law”

  • Restitution of pieces of art issues;
  • Inheritance of works of art;
  • Transport of art-pieces issues;
  • Art and penal law;
  • Purchase of art issues;
  • Auctions issues;
  • Museums laws;
  • Galleries laws;
  • Photography of works of art;
  • General Art law;
  • Art-Licenses rights;
  • Modification of pieces of art etc.

German copyright law

What is a copyright?

Copyright is an exclusive right to copy a literary, musical, artistic or other original. The usual prerequisite for a copyright is a personal intellectual creation. Protection covers works of literature, science and art. These include sound recordings, pictures and performances of an artist as well as e.g. software. As far as the latter is concerned, however, there are special regulations within the Copyright Act. The contents of a domain can be protected by copyright. This does not regard the software the contents are created with, but the way the website is presented.

The term “copyright” does not, however, comprise all aspects of what copyright means. The protection offered does not only deal with the legitimacy of a copy. Similarly, public performance, distribution, translation, alternation and so on of the work as a whole or any substantial part of it are also protected. Furthermore, when looking at them in detail, there are differences between Anglo-American copyright law and its German counterpart, the “Urheberrecht”, which is often referred to by the English term. (Differences include, especially, the so-called personality copyright in German law, which is not transferable, the way in which employees’ inventions are treated, etc.).

What can be protected by a copyright?

A copyright protects personal intellectual creations from numerous areas such as literature, drama, music, art, architecture, film and others. Scientific representations are also protected, i.e. sketches, plans, maps and drawings. A personal intellectual creation requires the so-called degree of creation (whereas in the Anglo-American law merely “skill and labour” are expected). It is impossible to handle the question schematically whether this degree of creation exists; even courts decide variously on this matter.

Copyright can also apply to software. So called accomplishments protection rights (not relating to law on competition) are regulated in the Copyright Act as well and concern e.g. databases.

What cannot be protected?

Ideas as such are not protected, neither by copyright, nor in any other way, according to the principle that “thoughts are free”. It is only a concrete expressive form of an idea that can obtain protection by copyright. An author of a book on German history might have copyright protection for his book. He cannot, however, prohibit the “idea” of a work on German history. Similarly, a person who converts a certain idea of an internet company into reality by means of a personal intellectual creation enjoys protection by copyright for the homepage thus created. The idea as such can be used otherwise, though.

Protection by copyright does not usually cover the title (title protection is possible under trademark law), names, slogans (still disputable) and similar short terms. Mass articles of average „originality” are not protected, either, due to an insufficient degree of creation.

What is the duration of a copyright?

A copyright is usually effective during the lifetime of the author and 70 years after his death. In case of joint authorship the author who lives longest is decisive.

How is a copyright obtained?

In Germany, just as in many countries nowadays, protection by copyright is guaranteed automatically, when the legal requirements are fulfilled. Entry in the register is not necessary and no official fees must be paid (it is in principle recommended to deposit a work as evidence for the purpose of proving authorship).

Are copyrights transferable?

Exploitation rights are in principle transferable. „Copyright” cannot, however, be sold, since the so-called personality copyright remains always with the author.

As far as the transfer of exploitation rights in favour of the author is concerned, the Copyright Act assumes that in case of doubt he will only transfer what is necessary in order to comply with the contract (purpose transfer theory).

As far as the granting of exploitation rights is concerned, so-called licences play a central role, which cover a wide range of legal, factual and financial regulations.

An author owns his “words” and not his “books”.

Authorship is not synonymous with ownership. An author of a book has an intangible (intellectual) right to it. This means that illegal copies of a book do not “belong” to its author. Nonetheless, he can enforce their destruction.

What is the relevance of the copyright notice?

Such an indication is recommended on every piece of work which is suitable for it, since it leads to a so-called shift in the burden of proof. This means that it is not the author of the work labelled with such a notice, but the third party, who has to prove authorship.