A copyright may be transferred by agreement to a natural person, i.e. a human being, or a legal person such as a company or other society. Economic rights may be transferred in part or wholly but moral rights are, in principle, inalienable. Moral rights can only be transferred in a way that is limited in quality and extent, for example, in a way that leaves the author's name unmentioned in a limited context. The extent of copyright transfer is defined by the content of the agreement. Insofar as copyrights have not been transferred by agreement, they remain with the author.

In accordance with the Copyright Act, they to whom the copyright has been transferred, may not adapt the work or transfer their rights, unless otherwise explicitly agreed. If it is desired, that the work may be adapted or that the right is transferable to a third party, this is to be explicitly agreed upon.

Unless otherwise agreed, copyrights remain with the artist after the transfer of a work, or its copy. In accordance with the explicit provision of the Copyright Act, the transfer or a copy does not entail the transfer of copyright. A person who has acquired a copy of a work may thus not, for example, reproduce post cards or enlargements of the work, or upload a photograph of it to their website for viewing. The person who has acquired a copy, has only acquired the right of ownership to one copy without any related copyrights, unless otherwise agreed.

The author of a portrait made to commission may however not exercise their right without the consent of the person who commissioned it, or after their death, that of their widow or heirs. Thus, the author requires the consent of the commissioner, for example, for the manufacturing reproductions of the portrait.

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