COMPUTER PROGRAMS AND DATABASES
The rights relating to computer programs and databases are also governed by the Copyright Act. Unlike the domains of literary works, musical works, artistic works, photographic works, the creating of computer programs is not a work of an individual, but of employees of a company, e. g. software architects and programmers. Pursuant to §§ 69 a to 69 g of the Copyright Act the rights to computer programs belong to the employer. Where a computer program is created by an employee in the execution of his duties or following the instructions of his employer, the employer exclusively shall be entitled to exercise all economic rights in the computer program. The protection granted shall apply to the expression in any form of a computer program. The complete programming of the Source Code is protected.
Computer programs are not patentable. Although they are of high technical nature, an effective protection is not possible in Germany or in the member states of the European Union.
Difficult legal issues may arise with regard to the drafting and conclusion of contracts for customised software. In that case a careful wording of the contract is essential in order to be able to determine claims and responsibilities between the parties at a later date.
The Directive on the legal protection of databases has also been incorporated in the Copyright Act. However, it is not the contents of a database that should be protected, but the considerable investment a producer of a database has had by the collection of works, data, or other independent elements arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible to the public by electronic or other means.