Copyright: remuneration for photographs of freelance journalists

The appropriate remuneration of authors within the meaning of Section 32 UrhG is discussed and disputed time and again. Another decision of the Federal Court of Justice, in this case with regard to photographs, is likely to be relevant for the further development of the law. The following article deals with the basic points of the decision of the judges from Karlsruhe:
1. the “Common Compensation Regulations for Freelance Full-time Journalists at Daily Newspapers of February 1, 2010” shall also constitute a basis for determining the reasonable compensation owed to a freelance journalist pursuant to Section 32 UrhG for the period prior to their entry into force.
2. on the interpretation of the joint compensation regulations for freelance full-time journalists at daily newspapers of February 1, 2010.
3. the “Collective Agreement for Employee-Like Freelance Journalists” may be used as a basis for estimating a reasonable fee for photographs published in a factual newspaper, even if the photographer did not work as an employee-like journalist but as a freelance journalist.


1. the application of the Common Compensation Rules for Freelance Full-time Journalists at Daily Newspapers does not require proof of full-time work only for daily newspaper publishers. Instead, it is sufficient to present a press card, even if the journalist’s main professional activity extends to publications in other media.(para.21)
(2) The applicable rate of the Common Compensation Rules for Freelance Full-Time Journalists at Daily Newspapers shall be determined by whether the journalist has granted a publisher an exclusive or a simple right of use (first printing right or second printing right).(para.22)
3. in case of doubt, the newspaper publisher receives only a simple right of use from freelance journalists, since according to the applicable purpose transfer rule of the § 31 para. 5 UrhG the author transfers to the user only as many rights as necessary to achieve the purpose of the contract.(para.22)
The calculation of the fee shall be based on the circulation of the partial issues of the daily newspaper in which the journalist’s contributions appeared.(para.25)
(5) If contributions have appeared in several regional editions of the daily newspaper, the respective circulation figures of these partial editions shall be added together for the purposes of remuneration. In these cases, a separate fee for each of the partial issues cannot be requested.(para.26)
(6) For the estimation of a reasonable fee for the publication of photographs in a daily newspaper, the collective agreement for quasi-employee freelance journalists may be used as a basis for estimation, even if the claimant is not a quasi-employee freelance journalist but a completely freelance journalist.(para.2)

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