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Film Rights as a Special Form of Copyright - Film-Law

The question whether someone is the copyright holder of a film is answered by the Copyright Act and within that framework by the general principle of creativity.


Cologne, NRW -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/05/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and London conclude: According to the Copyright Act’s general principle of creativity, which is enshrined in section 7, Copyright Act, the ownership of a film’s copyright depends on whether the “person” whose copyright is in question has made a creative contribution to the film. Such a contribution exists, for example, when it reflects a personal intellectual creation.

The extent of this creative contribution determines the extent of the copyright. The copyright for a film can be held by an individual as well as by a corporate body. A plurality of individuals can also hold the copyright for a film jointly. However, in that case, it must be differentiated between the copyright for the film as a whole or for only a certain direct component of the film such as the screenplay, or for an independent medium such as a novel on which the film is based.

The relevant time of the creative contribution is regarded as the period between the beginning of the shooting of the film (which initiates the production of the film) and completion of the final print (where the production ends).

Copyright is not automatically ruled out when some participants such as the producer, who also plays the role of director, assume a double or multiple function. But for ownership of the copyright, it is necessary in such cases that there are two different contributions that can be separated from each other. If it is not possible to look at the contributions separately, the participant in question is entitled either to copyright or to intellectual property right.

It is often difficult to determine the copyright holder of a film. In that respect, it can be helpful to define the roles of those participating in the production of the film beforehand to avoid uncertainties when rights are claimed.

Film rights are a complicated subject, particularly when they apply on an international scale. It cannot hurt to have a lawyer at your side who will always be able to give legal advice.

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