Media and Art Use Licenses in Germany


Berlin, Frankfurt, and other cities throughout German are known for their prolific artistic and cultural products. Music, visual art, graphic design, literature, and other media are protected by Germany’s copyright law to ensure that artists get proper credit and protection of their work against third-party infringement. One distinction between German Law and other international jurisdictions is that the author must be a natural person. Companies cannot register creations under copyright legislation in Germany.

Granting use of intellectual property rights

If you have intellectual property in Germany, including a copyright for a piece of art or other media, you can grant a license to generate profit. In most cases, you will want to work with an experienced attorney who can help you to negotiate a licensing or assignment agreement to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are fairly compensated for granting such uses to other individuals, organizations, or corporations. You can also limit the scope of use and set geographical location, field of use, or time limits around the use of a piece of art, media, or other intellectual property product.

There are different kinds of licensing for copyright and other intellectual property including:

  • Exclusive licenses: You would give the exclusive rights to a single license holder
  • Multiple licenses: These would allow you to give the rights to multiple license holders
  • Franchising: A franchise is a special legal framework that gives special use licenses for purposes of distribution to multiple holders

What are royalties for artists, musicians, and other copyright holders?

In simple terms, royalties are the payouts that you, the license holder, will receive in exchange for giving permission for the use of your intellectual property. Our experienced intellectual property attorneys can help you to negotiate the best rates for your licensing agreement, ensure that the agreement meets your expectations and needs, as well as enforce your rights should another individual or entity violate your use agreement.

Do I need an attorney to review my licensing agreement?

If you have been presented with a licensing agreement and are unsure of its contents, it is important to consult with an attorney. You will want to make sure that you maintain the right to your intellectual property and that there is no actual transfer of ownership. Does your music belong to you or your label? In some instances, it might make sense to turn over your right to ownership, but you will want to make sure you understand the short and long-term consequences of signing any contract related to your art, music, or creative product.

What should I include in my licensing agreement?

For many creatives, including musicians and artists in Berlin or throughout Germany, you might need to quickly devise a licensing agreement to allow another individual or company to use your work. What should be included? Any licensing agreement should be in writing and should specify exactly what intellectual property rights are concerned, whether it be an album, a song, a graphic, or other pieces of writing. You should indicate the starting point and duration of the use contract and be clear about the financial compensation owed to the licensor, whether you prefer a lump sum or royalties, is up to you.

Some other considerations are whether the license is exclusive or non-exclusive. Will you give others the right to use your work as well? You may have other conditions including where or how the intellectual property can be used. Our German intellectual property lawyers are experienced in the potential pitfalls of licensing agreements and can help you protect your rights.

Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt Media and Art Licensing Attorneys

Our attorneys are experienced in handling all aspects of intellectual property licensing, including the negotiation and drafting of licensing agreements, and any conflict or dispute resolution. If you are considering licensing your visual art, music, graphic, or other creative product, consider working with an experienced team of intellectual property attorneys who will work effectively and strategically to protect your rights. We have years of experience in this practice area and are happy to answer your questions, negotiate on your behalf, or defend your interest in court. Please contact Atty. Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. for any support with your licensing issues. You may reach him via e-mail ( or on +49 69 58 80 972-40 (Frankfurt am Main) or +49 30 40 36 785-80 (Berlin).

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