13 Mar 2013

In 2002 the German Copyright Law was amended with the purpose of strengthening the contractual position of authors and performers by providing that copyright “serves to secure an equitable remuneration for utilization of his work”. Basically, the amendment consisted in giving creators the right to negotiate their remuneration.

The amendment was considered necessary because of the increasing awareness of the fact that simple granting more protection rights to creators was not enough to suit their actual needs. However, the amendment doesn’t specify whom authors and performers have the right to negotiate with.

This lack of specification had been an excuse for public German broadcaster ZDF not  to implement the Authors Contract Law. ZDF does not consider itself the “primary user” of broadcasted films and programs, and therefore not responsible for authors’ equitable remuneration.

In 2010, BVR members decided to take ZDF to court. The litigation work was conducted by their legal advisor Florian Prugger.

According to a decision of the district court of Munich from November 2012 the German public broadcaster ZDF was compelled to negotiate rules for a reasonable remuneration (fair payment) of film directors with the German Director’s Guild (BVR) under the German Copyright Act.

After having a lodged appeal while the German Director’s Guild filed a complaint against several newly implemented rules in ZDF’s General Conditions, ZDF finally agreed to negotiate with the German Director’s Guild rules for adequate remuneration (fair payment) and agreed to a ”cease and desist” of certain elements in ZDF’s General Rules.

A first round of negotiations started during the Berlinale last month. If the parties do not finalize an agreement by the end of October 2013, an automatic arbitration process is implemented.

Due to several recent German court decisions compelling  private broadcasters to pay adequate remuneration to authors, the private broadcasters Sat.1 and Pro7 also agreed to negotiate rules for adequate remuneration under the German Copyright Act of 2002 with the German Director’s Guild.