The Culture Committee of the German Bundestag has invited Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. as an expert and heard him in a four-hour session on the planned copyright reform
by ZELLER & SEYFERT
The Federal Government's draft of the planned copyright reform has been available since February 7th, 2021. The Culture Committee of the German Bundestag invited Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. as an expert to a private Bundestag committee meeting to answer, along with eight other experts, the questions of the members of the Bundestag on the law reform. On February 24th, 2021, Dr. Seyfert was available to answer the questions of the members of the Bundestag for almost four hours in several rounds of questions.
Attorney Dr. Seyfert emphasized right at the beginning that the melody protection provision in § 24 (2) of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) should not be dropped. The German government's draft bill provides for a complete deletion of § 24 (2) UrhG. Neither the ECJ nor the EU Directive, which is the starting point and basis of the copyright reform project in Germany, provide for the elimination of melody protection in Germany. Attorney Dr. Seyfert therefore spoke to the members of parliament of an obvious drafting error on the part of the legislature. Melody protection in Germany has been firmly anchored in copyright law for decades. § 24 (1) UrhG could be deleted—and rightly so—but the content of Paragraph 2 must be retained. Attorney Dr. Seyfert therefore proposed to the members of the Bundestag that melody protection in Germany should in the future be regulated in a single paragraph in § 24 UrhG. According to Atty. Dr. Seyfert’s proposal, § 24 UrhG should in future be worded as follows:
“§ 24 UrhG Melody Protection (Melodienschutz)
A new work of music which recognizably takes the melody from an existing work and uses it as its basis may be published and exploited only with the consent of the author.”
Attorney Dr. Seyfert also reiterated his 13 points of criticism of the draft law, which he had previously sent to the members of the Bundestag in a written briefing. He emphasized that the planned §§ 9 ff. Copyright Service Providers Act - UrhDaG violate higher-ranking law in his view, in particular German fundamental rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (there in particular Art. 17 Para. 2) as well as Art. 15 of the UN Social Covenant, which provides for the protection and promotion of art and culture. The German Constitutional Court (BVerfG) had explicitly ruled that the German legislature must take Art. 15 UN Social Covenant into account in its legislation. Laws that restrict art and culture too much are unconstitutional in case of doubt.
At the end of the near four-hour meeting, the members of parliament said that there was still a need for amendments and that the legislative process was only just beginning. The next few weeks will show to what extent the federal government's draft law will be amended.
Meanwhile, a follow-up meeting of Attorney Dr. Seyfert with Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin has been arranged for March 22nd, 2021. Exceptional German artists Julia Neigel and Peter Maffay in particular will also appear at this meeting to present their criticism of the current copyright law reform.
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