Music copyright and exhaustion doctrine

On 21 June 2021, Mr. Christlieb Klages from Berlin and Mr. Thomas Blickwedel from Münster each gave an exciting lecture as part of Professor Dr. Thomas Hoeren’s lecture on copyright law.

For the first three quarters of an hour, Christlieb Klages presented the current problems in music and film law and dealt with film production law (synchronisation right), using an example to illustrate how a musical work can be linked to a film work as a film score. Christlieb Klages also elaborated on the significance and connection of Gema, publisher, composer and pressing plant. Furthermore, the master use licence and with it the importance of sound carrier producer, record company, label, artist and company were presented. This was followed by an interesting round of questions from the students and other interested parties who attended the lecture, which was moderated by Professor Dr. Thomas Hoeren.

The second lecture consisted of a fifteen-minute presentation on Thomas Blickwedel’s doctoral project, which deals with the current problems of the copyright exhaustion principle in times of digitalisation. In the context of this debate, two decisive judgments of the European Court of Justice were presented. In the ruling ECJ, 03.07.2021 – C-128/11, it was decided that used software may be resold, as the copyright exhaustion principle also applies to software acquired by means of a download. In the second judgment presented, ECJ, 19.12.2019 – C-263/18, the European Court of Justice denies the exhaustion effect to used e-books and classifies them as making available to the public. This different legal assessment is accompanied by a dichotomy between software and e-books – and thus also other digital goods – which Thomas Blickwedel critically examined and then proposed solutions as to how the principle of exhaustion could be better adapted to the digital development.

We would like to thank both speakers for their exciting presentations.