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.

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