Germany: collecting society’s payout to publishers highly disputed

By Max Wenger

On 13 May 2014, the District Court of Berlin (16 O 75/13) rejected a claim brought by a songwriter and a composer against a collecting society’s payout to music publishers. The claim was directed at a declaratory judgment that GEMA (the German collecting society responsible for licensing musical performances and musical reproduction) was not allowed to pay parts of the remuneration it had collected to music publishers.

The plaintiffs based their arguments on a previous judgment by the District Court of Munich (7 O 28640/11). In its decision, this court had to deal with a similar claim against the collecting society of authors (VG Wort) and held that VG Wort’s assignment and distribution plan was not allowed to stipulate payouts to publishers as this would contravene the ‘prohibition on arbitrary actions’ as stipulated in the German Copyright Act…

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