Those who offer goods for sale online must be aware that the internet is not a legal vacuum. Along with registered property rights such as trademarks or registered designs, in particular copyrights of third parties must be observed here.

With a few clicks, photographs and text can be inserted into your own shop page by “cut and paste”. The use of copyright-protected images or, particularly, original advertising texts can result in warnings from the owner of the rights.

However, which works and services are actually protected by copyright? The question is not always easy to answer because there is no official office such as the German Patent and Trademark Office which examines whether copyright protection to a work exists or enters copyrights in a register.

An individual creative activity which is expressed in works of literature, science and art is protected by copyright. However, these ideas are only protected in the form of specific embodiments. Also covered are so-called ancillary copyrights which protects the economic, organisational and financial work or the expenditure incurred. For example, this involves the protected supply of practicing artists and promoters, film producers or record producers.

Advertising texts and also presentations of a scientific and technical nature such as drawings, plans, maps, sketches or tables can also be protectable as compositions. However, this only applies if a certain level of creativity is achieved. This is not the case with simple advertising slogans and product descriptions because usually just the product features are reproduced and hundreds of similar texts exist on the internet. In specific original individual cases however, the jurisdiction has made exceptions and seen an infringement of copyright in the use of longer product description texts and also of particularly original advertising slogans.

It should be noted that each individual usage must be authorised by the originator. The fact that images or texts have already been published on other pages does not mean that no copyright claims exist.