Music experts have significant influence on the decisions in almost all legal proceedings. In some cases, several expert opinions are requested in order to have an objective framework of the situation; it could also happen that different experts can contradict each other. In the last years, there has been an increasing “professionalisation”. In the beginning, expert opinions were still personal and sometimes methodologically questionable. Over time, experts with a certain familiarity with case law and legal vocabulary were chosen from the tribunal/legal structure. Increasingly, other methods besides the purely descriptive analysis of works and the comparison of notes from the fields of music psychology and music sociology started finding their way into expert opinions protocols. Today, the demands on music experts are correspondingly high. Sometimes several experts are commissioned to clarify technical questions of evidence.
You can avoid arising music law conflicts if you commission a forensic music analysis of your production for legal certainty and quality control as a preventive measure before publication. You will receive an objective analysis of whether your work maintains the required distance from the comparative work of music.
Our law firm works daily with cases of music plagiarism, distortion, adaptation, quotation, intellectual property protection. Get in touch with us. Our experts are here for you.
Quick Check on the most Frequent Asked Questions of the internet
Are self-composed songs automatically protected by copyright?
German copyright law automatically protects music or sheet music and song lyrics.
What has copyright to do with music?
The musical work is protected under copyright law as soon as it is created, i.e. when the song is played for the first time at rehearsals or when the lyrics and melody are written down.
Has copyright on music a period of expiration?
Copyright on music lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. After that, the statute of limitations expires and it is considered to be in the public domain.
Strangers are using a self-composed song without my permission. What shall I do?
In this case, there may be a copyright infringement. It is possible to take legal action against this. Do not waste time. Contact a lawyer immediately.
What about YouTube? Can I download music for free and sell it online?
The answer is definitely NO. Illegally downloading music from YouTube and eventually selling it or using it without permission is a crime and it can be punished legally. Anyone who uploads a self-composed song on Youtube is considered to be the author. This means that the copyright law for music applies. In addition, anyone who includes other people’s music in a video may be committing a copyright infringement. Therefore, it should be checked beforehand who the author is and whether permission is necessary. A lawyer could definitely help you clarify every question you have.
Copyright infringement only occurs if I commercially exploit the music, right?
NO, that is not correct. If you use pieces of music protected by copyright law and offer them for free download on your website, this is also an infringement. If unauthorised distribution takes place, it is irrelevant whether it is of a commercial nature or not.
The New Music Copyright Reform enters into force on June 7, 2021
The law concerning the new EU copyright directives was published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt) on June 4, 2021 and the new so-called Copyright Service Providers Act (UrhDaG), i.e. the implementation of the controversial Article 17 of the EU Directive (formerly Article 13), will then come into force on August 1, 2021.
Background of the reform:
As a sign of our constantly changing society, social media platforms are also in an unremitting search for the best contents. Copyright law is constantly confronted with digital changes and without a constant adaptation of our legal system would be difficult to keep the media laws contained. For this reason, a copyright reform was passed this year to meet the requirements of an increasingly digitally active knowledge society.
According to the reform, digital platforms will be held liable for copyright infringements on their channels and have to acquire the necessary licenses. Representatives of the online community must accept that there is an enforceable copyright on the Internet and this must be accepted in the future of copyright law. Authors and rights exploiters, in turn, must come to terms with the fact that the German government has defined a “minor use” that is permitted without compensation for copyrights: fifteen seconds in image and sound, 160 characters of text, and image excerpts of up to 125 kilobytes are free.
This does not sounds like “too much”, but just the fifteen seconds is too much in the age of Instagram and TikTok for musicians, music publishers, filmmakers and film rights holders of the free. These fifteen seconds are enough to play out the decisive scene on TikTok for instance and this has been the reason for criticism and resistance form the side of musicians and music publishers. These letters will in particular not give up really soon, even once the new copyright law has come into force.
What if you decide to write a music album… and someone else decides to publish the same music you have just written? Is it just a case? Did they copied you? What does the law says about these kind of legal disputes?
The author of a music work X decides to sue the author of the song Y, because the music is alleged to be copied from the pre-existing work X. This is
This is a real case that the OLG Hamburg solved with a strong and firm tribunal decision.
The Hamburg Regional Court dismissed the case. Yes, you read that right. In fact, it is true that the X work of music own the right of protect ability, however, the composition of the Y music had minor deviations. The possibility of double creation was thus given. It could not be proved that the protectable guitar melody was taken over from the pre-existing work.
The second expert of the Court of Appeal referred to the frequent occurrence of the chord sequence (Turnaorund) and that the guitar figures could easily be derived from finger exercises. A double creation was therefore very likely.
Are you interested in this case? Do you have questions? Don’t waste time! CONTACT US. We are here for you.
Mr. F. becomes clear information from his car repair shop: The flat-rate price for the repair of the damage is going to be 700 euros. When the customer picks up the car, however, 833 euros are printed on the invoice.
Reason for this unfortunate misunderstanding is that the employee of the car repair shop only told his customer the net price of his service, absolutely not mentioning the value added taxes that were going to incur.
Mr Falkenberg decided to take legal action, as he previously refused the offer of another garage, which would actually have been cheaper, only because he thought that he was going to pay only 700 euros.
The Karlsruhe Regional Court decided that consumers in Germany must always be able to see immediately and transparently the actual price of goods and services they are going to purchase, always including VAT. It is not permissible to add VAT on the invoice without informing the customer in advance.
In case the seller (or car repair shop owner) does not comply with this regulation, it could face an administrative fine of up to 250,000 euros.
Going home from work is not automatically covered by life insurance
Federal Social Court of Kassel (Case B 2 U 9/19 R)
Sometimes life does not go as planned. The case we are reviewing with you today is unfortunately concerning the tragic car accident of Hannes Hanke.
Mr. Hanke used to work as a chemical worker in his hometown in Germany. One day, just like many others, leaves Mr. Hanke his workplace, leaves the machine running, doesn’t say goodbye to his colleagues and doesn’t log off at the working hours file record. He usually calls his wife before going home, but he doesn’t do that that day either. He gets into his car and goes on the usual and direct way home. In doing so, his car gets caught in oncoming traffic and Hannes Hanke suddenly loses his life in a car crush. His widow is now claiming survivor´s loss benefits from the statutory life insurance. However, the employers’ insurance association rejects her claims as the accident was according to the records on his way home and not at his actual working place.
Ms. Hanke decided then to go to court and let the judges at the Federal Social Court in Kassel decide.
The Tribunal Decision:
They took the following decision: An accident on the usual way home from work is not always covered by the statutory accident insurance. Rather, it must also be clear that the employee actually wants to drive home. This cannot be established in the present case. After a normal working day, it can be assumed that the employee does indeed want to go home. However, this does not apply to the completely atypical procedure that Mr. Hanke had on the day of his death.
So, Ms. Hanke unfortunately had not received her insurance benefits.
What do you think about this case? Do you have questions on German insurance law?
In times of corona, every action we were actually taking without thinking has become an open question. This is the case of an employer (a German company operating in the field of clinical rehabilitation) and the group works council (in German Konzernbetriebsratsitzung) of its company.
The employer has temporarily prohibited all employees from attending
inter-facility meetings and gatherings and has applied this prohibition also
with regard to a planned meeting of the group works council, which is to be
held in person over several days and requires the works council members to
travel. The employer considers such a presence meeting to be unacceptable in
view of the current Covid 19 pandemic. The group works council has however
opposed to the prohibition and claimed that all applicable legal requirements
for protection against infections have been complied with and there is no need
to postpone meetings.
In the proceedings
for interim relief, the Berlin Labor Court has ruled that a meeting of the group
works council cannot be prohibited.
to the decision of the labor court, there is no legal basis for a ban of this
kind of meetings. According to the Works Constitution Act, the chairman of the
group works council decides on the convening of the meeting, the place of the
meeting and thus also on whether a meeting is to be held in the form of a video
or telephone conference.
According to the Corona Contact and Operating
Restrictions Ordinance currently in force at the venue, it is permissible to
hold the meeting, whereby the observance and compliance with the Ordinance is
primarily the responsibility of the group works council itself and its
chairperson. The increase in risk remains despite expected compliance with the
rules of conduct but this did not entitle the employer to prohibit the meeting
as a face-to-face event.
This decision is subject to appeal to the
Berlin-Brandenburg Regional Labour Court.
The tribunal decision of this week concerns a topic we all know: the use of social media. But what happens to all the contents after a user has died?
For many years has been talked about the inheritance rights of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter after the owner of an online profile passed. The German Federal Court of Justice has now taken an important decision: the Facebook account passes to the heirs with all its functions.
The tribunal decision III ZB 30/20 of the German Federal Court of Justice has been a great step forward in this case of legal uncertainty. Let´s have a look at the situation in detail.
A few years ago, Linda Lindemann’s daughter died under unknown circumstances. The young woman was hit by an underground tram and she died at the scene of the accident. The mother of the victim tried to learn more about the background that brought her daughter to commit suicide and decided to investigate by searching the Facebook account of her. The key of her daughter´s suicide could be hidden in the private Facebook massages but how to read them? Linda suspected bullying as being the main cause of the accident, but Facebook would not allow her to get to the functions of the social media platform of the teenager. The access to her daughter´s messages was forbidden as a Facebook account was considered “only” a Gedenkzustand or in English “a state of remembrance” of the victim and could not be passed to the heirs of the user.
Facebook sent to the mother a USB stick with a 14.000-page PDF file of all user data. But that is not enough for Linda Lindemann. She wants full access to the user account, all functions included.
The Federal Court of Justice has now issued the following judgement:
Facebook must give a user’s heirs access not only to the content but also to the functions of the deceased person´s account. A Facebook account is indeed, a part of the digital heritage of each individual and in this particular case this should be transferred to the mother Linda. It is comparable to diaries and letters and according to the judges, there is no reason to treat digital content differently.
As a matter of fact, masks have slowly but drastically become an ornament to our everyday life, just like shoes and clothes. Most countries of the world are changing rules in order to fight the corona global pandemic from spreading and infecting more people on a daily basis.
The World Health Organization and most Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend including face masks at public events and everywhere, where it is difficult to keep the required social distancing.
Masks come in a broad variety of styles and sizes and everybody own at least one.
However, not everybody is ready to use one, when needed.
This was the case of a couple of German students that definitely weren´t that happy to wear a mask in public!
The Case (Higher Administrative Court North Rhine-Westphalia AZ: 13 B 1368/20):
The two students wanted to be permanently exempted from the compulsory masks to be worn in the school building. For this reason, they submitted medical certificates to the school management. The certificates stated that from a health point of view, wearing an everyday mask all day is not to be recommended. Concentration, attention and the process of learning of the applicants would suffer.
The school management however, decided not to accept the certificates and refuses to exempt them from the mask obligation. The parents decided to bring the case before a judge in court.
The urgent application was rejected by the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia. The justification for refusal was that the submitted medical certificates did not meet the minimum requirements, since the general impairments listed there, could ultimately affect all students and not only these two one. Rather, the medical certificate must clearly and specifically state the health impairment individually for and only these two subjects and specifically explain which are the consequences of the mask on them. Possible relevant previous illnesses should for instance be mentioned. Besides it must be clear, on which basis the attesting physician came to this estimation and on which evidences he attested so. The decision is also not contestable.
Are you also living a situation that does not fit your expectations and you would like to clarify the problems you are facing?
September has come to an end, and as we all know, October is in Germany the month of new starts. The winter semester at all German universities is slowly beginning and while experienced students get back to college with a couple of preoccupations, young and fresh teenagers make their first step in a completely new world made of libraries, lecture halls, books, exams, degrees and new friendships.
How many of them, are approaching such a long path in order to work in the German legal structure as lawyers, attorneys, judges or notaries? According to the Website www.talentrocket.de (last access on the 29th of September 2020), the number of Law Students in Germany in the last years is almost a constant: around 100.000. What are they expecting? Whether it is representing the interest of a murderer trying to influence the judge´s decision in their favor or advising individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes, and represent them in court and legal transactions, the path to become a “Rechtsanwalt” in Germany is really long and difficult.
How to become an attorney in Germany:
If you want to become an attorney, you will firstly have to complete a 9-semester study of law, which you will then complete with the first state examination (1. Staatsexamen). Afterwards, you will need to complete a 2-years legal clerkship (Referendariat), a kind of preparatory service, until the second state examination (2. Staatsexamen). Just after all these steps, you will be allowed to register with the respective bar association (Rechtsanwaltskammer) and finally receive the certificate of admission, also called in German “Anwaltszulassung”.
And this is so important that no lawyer would like to risk it for nothing in the world… or almost!
The tribunal decision of today’s review comes from the Berlin Bar Court and is the judgment of 25.03.2015 – II AGH 6/14.
Leibniz University in Hanover – Source: www.pixabay.com
In the underlying case, a lawyer was expelled in May 2014 by the local bar association. The reason was that the lawyer had a sideline as managing director of a real estate trading company. The attorney considered the withdrawal of admission to the bar to be inadmissible and therefore filed a lawsuit.
The Berlin Bar Court decided against the German Attorneys. The withdrawal of the attorney’s license to practice law was considered lawful according to § 14 (2) No. 8 of the Federal Lawyers’ Act. The activity as real estate agent is fundamentally incompatible with the legal profession. For this reason, there is a clear danger of a conflict of interests.
In the opinion of the Court of Attorneys, it had to be taken into account that in the exercise of their profession, attorneys obtain knowledge of the client’s money and real estate assets. In his second profession as an estate agent, an attorney could for instance earn money from the restructuring of the assets. On the other side, the revocation of the lawyer admission can be considered a measure unreasonable hardness, as declared by the attorney´s defense. Insofar as the attorney had claimed that he would lose his income as a result of the revocation, this did not represent unreasonable hardship. It was unfortunately well-known to the attorney for years that the bar association had objected the activity as a managing director of the real estate trading company and would take to the cause of a revocation of the admission. He will therefore have had to terminate his activity in order not to risk revocation.
It doesn´t matter which career you are pursuing, it is of fundamental importance to always be careful and seek for help, in case of legal uncertainties.