Supervision under the Collective Management Organisations Act
Every use of a work protected by copyright – such as copying of a text or communication of a musical work to the public – generally requires prior permission by the author. In particular, in the case of the mass use of works, it is virtually impossible to seek permission in each individual case. Furthermore, since the author often does not have knowledge of each particular use and consequently cannot assert claims for appropriate compensation, collective management organisations generally manage the rights of creative people collectively. Collective management organisations are associations of creative people organised under private law. They grant licenses for the works managed by them, monitor the use of these works and collect royalties in order to subsequently distribute the revenues to the right holders on the basis of distribution schemes.
As most collective management organisations have specialised in a certain field – for example, GEMA and VG Wort have specialised in musical works and literary works, respectively – they often have an actual monopoly position in their respective field. Because of this monopoly position and because they act on a trust basis for the right holders they represent, they are subject to government supervision pursuant to the Collective Management Organisations Act (Verwertungsgesellschaftengesetz), which is exercised by the DPMA.
Grant of collective licences with extended effect by collective management organisations
The amendment of the Act on Collective Management Organisations ("CMO Act") in 2021 has provided the option to grant collective licences with extended effect (ECLs) based on the model of the Scandinavian countries. In accordance with the requirements of sections 51 et seq. of the CMO Act, collective management organisations can also grant rights of external rightholders, i.e. rightholders who do not maintain a management relationship with the relevant collective management organisation, for uses in Germany. Compared to the provisions in most Scandinavian countries, the German legislator has decided not to provide for a special authorisation or other approval procedure at the DPMA. Rather, collective management organisations can grant ECLs on the basis of their original management authorisation pursuant to section 77 of the CMO Act. However, the refutable presumption of the representativity of collective management organisations pursuant to section 51b (2) of the CMO Act is based on the general authorisation of collective management organisations. This also applies to collective management organisations established in another Member State of the European Union or another Contracting Party of the Agreement on the European Economic Area if they have appropriate authorisation (section 77 (2) no. 3 of the CMO Act). The collective management organisations that currently have authorisation are published in the list of collective management organisations established in Germany.
Last updated: 25 October 2022