GRP Rainer LLP

Film Copyright or Supplementary Work in German Copyright Law

Whether or not someone is the originator of a film is determined by the general principle of authorship under Copyright Law (UrhG).


Cologne, NRW -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/27/2013 -- GRP Rainer Attorneys and Tax Accountants in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London explain: The general principle of authorship in copyright is enshrined in Copyright Law (UrhG). It states that one originator is the creator. Thus, in assessing the question of whether or not someone is the originator of a film depends on whether or not the person in question has made a creative contribution to the film. A creative contribution is present if such a contribution reflects a personal intellectual creation.

The scope of the copyright is determined by the scope of the individual creative contribution. The originator of a film can in principle be both natural and legal persons as well as bodies of persons in joint association. It is appropriate to distinguish whether or not the case at hand involves film origination or origination of a pre-existing work such as a film-dependent work (for example, the script) or film-independent work (e.g. a novel).

The relevant time period for assessing whether or not someone has made a creative contribution to the film is the time between the start of the shooting of the film (because from this point on, the production of the film probably begins) and the completion of the final tape (because at that point, the production of the film ends).

The multiple functions undertaken by some copyright stakeholders while making the film do not preclude copyright consideration from the outset. It is requisite to assigning copyright, however, that two separate contributions can be distinguished. If the contributions performed cannot be considered as exclusive, then either copyright or ancillary copyright protection comes into question for that person.

It is often difficult to determine the originator of a work. In that regard, it may be helpful to define the roles of the film production team from the outset so that, in the event of enforcement of any claims, there are no ambiguities. An attorney who works in film and copyright can assist in the preparation of contracts.

GRP Rainer LLP is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London UK.

Contact Michael Rainer
Lawyer, Managing Partner
GRP Rainer LLP
Hohenzollernring 21-23
50672 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0