Copyrights, right of exploitation and right of use for theses
Theses, i.e. Bachelor's, Master's, Magister and diploma theses as well as dissertations, belong in particular as written works including software and representations of scientific and technical content to works within the meaning of the Copyright Act. Thus, after publication of the work, with the consent of the author, the knowledge contained in it is generally available (Section 12 UrhG), the work may be incorporated into the work of others (so-called free adaptation according to Section 24 UrhG) and the work may be cited to the extent required for the purpose (Section 51 UrhG).
The copyright as well as the resulting rights of exploitation and use - provided that the work is not related to a third-party funded project - are the sole property of the author (student, doctoral researcher) of the work.
The independent work on the topic of a diploma thesis/dissertation required by the respective examination regulations/doctoral regulations precludes the creation of a joint copyright of the supervising professor even if the latter has provided (essential) suggestions for the thesis.
A supervisory service that constitutes a copyright-relevant contribution would not be compatible with the nature of a thesis as an examination to be performed by the candidate independently and without outside help. Contributions in the form of suggestions, ideas, etc. do not affect copyright. A supervisor would only become a co-author if - contrary to the purpose of the examination - he/she were to draft parts of the thesis him/herself. The same applies to the dissertation as an independent achievement that should be linked to scientific progress.
The copyright to preliminary work on which a thesis/dissertation may be based remains with the author(s) of this preliminary work.
Acquisition of rights of use and exploitation
The university, the supervisor/examiner or third parties may only acquire rights of use if the author grants them such rights. An obligation to do so only exists if it has been contractually agreed or if the student/doctoral candidate is also an employee of the university and the work has been produced within the scope of the activity owed to them under their employment contract.