Attorneys for Film Law in Germany: Legal Enforcement of Film Rights
ZELLER & SEYFERT is a German law firm with experienced litigators who are specialized in the legal enforcement of film rights in Germany in and out of court. Head of the Film Law department of our law firm is Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. He is a Certified Copyright & Media Law Specialist as well as a Certified IP Law Specialist. Christian has been representing international motion picture companies in Germany for many years. He is a respected expert in the enforcement of film rights in Germany in and out of court. He is closely familiar with the movie business and speaks the film industry language of his clients.
Our film law clients include:
- Film studios
- Actors and Acting Agencies
- Performing Artists and Artist Agencies
- Owners of film rights (copyrights)
- Film music publishers
- Film music composers
- Casting agencies
- Voice actors
- Screenplay writers
Typical cases of application / areas of film law in Germany:
- Copyright Law and Copyright Litigation
- Trademark Law
- Right of Publicity (defamation, libel, slander, etc.)
- Biopics and films about real events (mockumentaries etc.)
- Image Law & Photo Law
- Net Profits
- Distribution of film profits
- Synchronization Licenses
- Master Use Licenses
- Motion Picture Music Licensing
- Soundtrack Recording Agreements
- Depiction Releases
- Film Clip Licenses
- Option and Literary Purchase Agreements
- Quitclaim Releases
- Submission Releases
- Loan-Out companies for artists, directors or writers
- Actor Employment Agreements
- Nudity Clauses
- Youth Protection Law
- Screenplay Writer Employment Agreements
- Screenplay Writer Collaboration Agreements
- Screen adaptations of novels
- Director Employment Agreements
- Novelization of Films
- Pre-sale Agreements
- Production Services Agreements
- Co-Production Agreements
- Casting Director Employment Agreements
- Film Agency Contracts
- Producer Employment Agreements
- Special Effects Agreements
- Film Distribution Agreements
- Television Distribution Agreements
- Home Video Licensing Agreements (DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.)
- Multimedia Distribution Agreements
- Merchandising Agreements (film)
- Independent Films
- Negative Pick-Up Agreements
- Film financing
- Completion Bonds
- Video-on-demand (VOD)
- Online marketing of movies
- Completion Bonds
- Disputes about the film title
Legal Representation of the Aggrieved Party
In Germany, images and photographs may be used, distributed, or publicly displayed only with the consent of the person portrayed in the image or photograph. If an image or photo of you appears on the internet, somewhere in the German press, or in any other German media publication, you can generally prevent this public use of your image or photo, if you have not previously consented to it. Exceptions to this basic rule are contained within narrow limits in the German Law on the Protection of Copyrights in Works of Art and Photographs (KUG).
There is a separate protection for the copyright owner of an image or a photograph, which may or may not be the person which is portrayed in the image or photograph: It constitutes copyright infringement, if an image or photo is copied, distributed, or published without the prior consent of the copyright owner.
ZELLER & SEYFERT is a German litigation law firm with specialized attorneys in the areas of copyright law, image law, and photo law. Our attorneys represent copyright owners of images and photos, as well as persons who are portrayed in the images and photos. In our litigation law firm, Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. will take care of handling your case concerning images, photos and copyrights. Dr. Seyfert is a Certified Copyright & Media Law Specialist and a Certified IP Law Specialist. He has been dealing with copyright law, image law, and photo law cases in Germany for many years.
Typical cases of application / areas of photo law in Germany:
- Illustrated press reports / media reports
- Unauthorized uses and exploitations of celebrity photos for advertising purposes
- Unauthorized commercial exploitations of the right to one person’s own image and likeness
- Violations of the right to one person’s own image and likeness (e.g. by unauthorized publication of personal photos on Facebook)
- German Law on the Protection of Copyrights in Works of Art and Photographs (KUG)
- Persons of contemporary history
- Paparazzi photos / protection against paparazzi
- Pictures and photographs of already deceased persons (post-mortem personal rights of the deceased’s relatives)
- Unauthorized use or reproduction of photos (copyright infringement), e.g. by posting such photos on the internet or by using such photos for promotional purposes
- Photographs and photographic works
- Packshots: Unauthorized use of photographs on products by third parties
- Fee recommendations of the German SME community for photo marketing
- Service catalogue of the German collecting society Bild-Kunst
- Privacy violations / data protection violations: Unauthorized use of personal data
Legal Representation before the Copyright Courts and General Courts in Germany
ZELLER & SEYFERT is a German law firm with experienced litigators who specialize in representing clients in all aspects of film law cases before German courts. Specialized courts for copyright litigation within the general courts (Small Claims Courts, District Courts and Courts of Appeal) are responsible for court review of copyright disputes concerning motion pictures in Germany. These courts also have jurisdiction over disputes concerning performing rights (neighboring rights) of actors, and other performing artists.
The civil departments in the general German courts have jurisdiction when issues of privacy and publicity, e.g. of the actors and artists, are in dispute. The general courts also decide cases concerning image law and photo law.
Litigation in film law matters is our forte. Please contact our internationally minded attorneys for more information.
Legal Representation before German Civil Courts
German civil courts have jurisdiction in both areas of image law & photo law:
- The right to your own image or likeness has been violated, because your image or likeness has been published in a photograph without your prior consent.
- Your copyrights to a photograph have been violated, because the respective photograph has been copied, distributed, or published without your prior consent.
In both areas you can rely on the experience of our attorneys, who have years of experience in enforcing the copyrights and rights to our clients’ own image and likeness before German civil courts. In particular, the following claims are available against the infringer of your copyrights or your rights to your own image and likeness:
- Injunctive relief against the continued unauthorized use of your copyright, image, or likeness
- Requests for information from the infringer of your copyrights or your rights to your own image or likeness on the nature and extent of the unauthorized use of the respective rights (right to information)
- Claims for damages, in particular profits made by the infringer of your copyrights or your rights to your own image or likeness and compensation according to the license analogy principle (damages for infringement of your copyrights or your rights to your own image or likeness)
- Claims for additional monetary compensation in cases of severe impairments of your personality right and you right to your own image or likeness
- Right of reply, revocation, rectification, and adjustment when a photo or an image is connected with false assertions of fact
- Claims to destruct the illegally distributed and published images and photographs, as well as devices with which the images and photographs have been produced
- Instead of the destruction: Claim to transfer the produced images and photographs as well as the devices for a reasonable fee to the claimant
Representation before the Federal German Constitutional Court
Both the freedom of expression and the general right of personality are constitutional rights which are enshrined in the German Constitution (German Basic Law). If the infringement on image and photo rights also constitutes a violation of at least one of these two constitutional rights, the Federal German Constitutional Court may decide the individual case in the last instance in Germany. The attorneys of ZELLER & SEYFERT are familiar with the case law of the Federal German Constitutional Court, particularly on image law and photo law disputes. Our attorneys will represent your personal interests competently and comprehensively before the Federal German Constitutional Court. They will review your image law and photo law case in detail and will advise you on whether an appeal to the Federal German Constitutional Court has a reasonable chance of success.
Representation before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg
Another chance to enforce your freedom of expression and your general right of personality provides you an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. The “Caroline” decisions of the ECHR from 2004 (judgment of June 24, 2004, No. 59320/00) and 2012 (judgments of February 07, 2012, No. 40660/08 and No. 60641/08), have profoundly stirred up the case law in Germany concerning the proper balance between the general right of personality protection on the one hand and the protection of the freedom of the press on the other hand, particularly when it comes to the use of personal images and photos in photojournalism. Our attorneys are familiar with the case law of the ECHR. They will guide you through the course of the proceedings before the ECHR and advise you on your chances of success there.
Legal Representation in Summary Proceedings (Speedy Trials)
In cases of particular urgency, our attorneys will swiftly enforce the motion picture copyrights of your motion picture company in a summary proceeding (speedy trial) before the responsible German court. Summary proceedings can also be commenced to preliminarily enforce the neighboring rights of actors and other performing artists who participated in the production of the film. If needed, our attorneys also promptly seek an injunction on your behalf with respect to certain privacy and publicity issues of actors and other performing artists which may come up during the production of the movie or afterwards.
In image law and photo law cases of particular urgency, ZELLER & SEYFERT’s attorneys will quickly enforce your copyrights and the rights to your own image and likeness in a summary proceeding before the competent German court. Our trial lawyers are familiar with the peculiarities of summary proceedings before German courts, particularly on image law and photo law issues. Our attorneys welcome your e-mails and phone calls to talk with you about your individual case.
Our attorneys are familiar with the peculiarities of injunction proceedings in film law, image law and photo law disputes before German courts. Simply contact us for further information.
Cease and Desist Letters – Pre-Litigation Representation out of court
According to German law, copyright owners of motion pictures as well as owners of all other forms of film, image, and photo-related rights (e.g. neighboring rights of performing artists, rights in photos and images, privacy and publicity rights etc.) generally have the obligation to inform the infringing party with a cease and desist letter out of court about their legal violations. Rushing to court without having tried an out of court settlement beforehand may otherwise result in having to pay the entire court fees even if your film company or photo company later wins the lawsuit.
Our attorneys will demand from the infringing party on behalf of your film company that they cease and desist from infringing upon your film, image, and photo rights. We will also claim on your behalf in particular damages and the destruction of illegally produced copies of the film and photos. If the infringing party chooses not to cooperate with our attorneys, we will enforce the film rights, image rights, and photo rights of your company before the courts in Germany.
Defending Clients in Film Law Conflicts
Unlike in the USA, a plaintiff before a German court bears the full burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt for all his claims also in a civil lawsuit. If film law, image law or photo law related claims have been put forward against your company or your company has been sued before a German court, our attorneys will defend your company against the plaintiff. Litigation in film law, image law & photo law cases in Germany is our attorneys’ forte. Contact us for a quick evaluation of your case and if the plaintiff meets the high standard of proof against you.
German and International Film Law Disputes
Film art knows no boundaries. Movies are commonly exhibited in movie theaters worldwide. Actors and other performing artists are known and celebrated internationally. Unfortunately, film rights as well as privacy and publicity rights are exploited multi-nationally.
Out of years of experience with complex litigation, our attorneys are familiar with representing international film law issues in court. They will let you know to what extent German courts have jurisdiction in your film law case and whether German law applies. Our attorneys will effectively enforce your film rights in Germany. Contact us to discuss your film law case in detail with you.