German film business law

There is no particular „film law” in Germany: instead, the copyright, trademark and competition law provisions shall be used as guidelines and regulations for issues concerning television and licensed films.

During the development, production, exploitation and financing of film and television programs or productions, many people are involved in various legal positions of various natures, which lead to different legal bundles that need to be analysed case-by-case.

From a practical point of view, it is first and foremost fundamental to understand what is going to be produced (a film-production, a big-screen movie, a series etc.), from who is it going to be executed and produced (producers, executives, co-producers, film director, author etc.), and where (Germany, Europe, International-wise, via IPTV etc.) is this production going to be made and settled.

What am I expected to do as an author?

As an author, you will be expected to find an exposé in Germany, not a complete script, as in the USA for example. Before an exposé is sent to the film production, the aspects embodied in the exposé should be examined in the light of whether legal protection appears to be possible. This applies particularly to titles, characters or the work as such.  In contrast to the expose, a so-called “treatment”, which is typically matched with the production of the film, will be protected by the copyright law as a precursor to the script.

Who is generally entitled to the movie legal rights?

  • Film director (own copyrights)
  • Producer (ancillary copyright)
  • Cameraman (in case of considerable artistic work)
  • Sound Engineer (in case of considerable artistic work)
  • Cutter (in case of considerable artistic work)
  • Costume designer/ Stylist (in case of his/her own inventive artistic work)
  • Production Design (in case of considerable artistic work)
  • Film actor (§§ 73-83 German UrhG*, has no copyright to the whole work/film)

Which are the typical kinds of contracts used in film production?

There are typical kinds of contracts used according to film rights; these are designed on a case-by-case and this also confirms the diversity of the various types of contracts. Please consider that these are listed below only as example:

    • Director Contracts
    • Screenplay and filming contracts
    • Cast contracts
    • Audio-visual performers contracts
    • TV License agreements
    • Video and DVD Licence Agreements
    • Format evaluation contract
    • Production Contract
    • Distribution Agreement


Film Promotion/ Film Financing

In Germany, dominantly highly promoted films are produced. The sponsor generally can appear as producer or co-producer with “his” corresponding production company.

German art law

Art law regards all manifestations of art, such as visual arts and cultural arts (theater, opera, serious music, etc.).

The designation of “artistic rights” is abstract, as there is no authorized art act or art law in the German legal system. The term “art law” itself, however, bundles the legal issues and solutions that are fundamental for artistic workpieces.

Art law can accordingly stand for all those art-relevant decisions, norms and areas of law. Thus, art law includes parts of the Civil Code (BGB), the Commercial Code (HGB), the Copyright Act (UrhG), the Penal Code (StGB), Competition Law (UWG) and other laws. The following legal issues are really common in German “Art Law”

  • Restitution of pieces of art issues;
  • Inheritance of works of art;
  • Transport of art-pieces issues;
  • Art and penal law;
  • Purchase of art issues;
  • Auctions issues;
  • Museums laws;
  • Galleries laws;
  • Photography of works of art;
  • General Art law;
  • Art-Licenses rights;
  • Modification of pieces of art etc.

Press law and media reporting law in Germany

The right of freedom of media reporting, freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of press are the most important fundamental foundations of democracy and, as a matter of principle, are embedded in Article 1, 2 and 5 of the Basic Law.

But media communication has also different sides. It can unjustly destroy the honor and prestige of a person. The basic rights of a human being can be violated by declaring false or untruthful facts about this person, unlawful or manipulated photos can be “leaked” on the internet, and the private sphere of a person can easily be infringed.

In these cases, it is generally issued an injunction proceeding, or a request for compensation for pain/damages or similar. Negative reports however, are not changed by juristic decisions. Unfortunately, even successful processes can have negative consequences in the light of their new public impact.

What we do for you is: after examining of all the material, proofs and your legal situation, we will let you know a possible tactical move in order to succeed in your goal. We offer more than a legal advice; it is all about your success and your reputation. We will support and accompany you throughout all the legal proceedings, before the Federal Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights. Our experienced attorneys also advise and represent a few medium-sized press companies in all matters of media and press law.


Publishing law in Germany

In what concerns the publishing legislation?

A Publishing Agreement authorizes the author to leave the work to the publisher for duplication and distribution in his representation. The publisher is obliged to reproduce and distribute the work as it is. Typical publishing contracts regard subjects of literary or musical works.

What is a „Publishing contract“?


The relationship between the authors and the publisher can be freely arranged. Some publishing contracts are based on the standard agreement of the Exchange Association. The non-binding Publishing Law (from 1901) regulates the main features.

What can we do for you?

  • Contracting and auditing of licensing agreements, remuneration agreements, publishing, editors and publishers administration contracts, including contracting for the production of sound, film and data media; (artists and bands publishing contract, distribution contracts, and performance contracts).
  • General media law including publishing, press, internet, music, film, television and event law as well as drafting contracts for film and television productions (scripted contracts, license agreements, production agreements);
  • Management, agency, consultancy and promotion contracts; media cooperation and merchandising agreements;
  • Protection of domain names, brand and company codes, hosting access, service and content provisions as well as general liability issues on the internet, in particular the liability for own and third-party sited or another type of networking;
  • Software and database law (with mobile commerce and MMS and digital rights management, ie handling of DRM systems, technical protection measures such as access control systems and copy protection system), in particular copy protection for audio CDs, DVDs as well as for film and multimedia DVDs and other data carriers;
  • Negotiation Management for authors with production and distribution companies;
  • Conduct negotiations between production and sale companies against authors;
  • Copyright examinations and evaluations, especially in the areas of design and art, as well as in the case of speech, sound and image works;
  • National and international law enforcement; utilization assessments (admissibility assessment of work use);
  • Judicial and arbitration enforcement of all kinds of copyrights, including interim injunctions and international legal proceedings.

Further topics and services offered by our Law Firm

  • Publishing Law;
  • Publishing Law Attorneys Hanover;
  • Verify, create the publishing license;
  • Publishers;
  • Authors;
  • Author´s contracts;
  • EBOOK-contracts;
  • Publishing company;
  • Book publishing;
  • Music publishing;
  • Publisher agreement;