The right to information under copyright law: also in public …

The right to information under copyright law: also in public service broadcasting

Since March 1, 2017, all persons who create works protected by copyright have had a legal right to annual information from the person who uses the respective work. For example, anyone who writes a text for DW or another radio station, shoots a video, produces a podcast, etc., which is then broadcast by the station as a television or radio report, or is published on one of the pages of the broadcaster, can exercise this right.

The person may contact the Establishment and request information about any use that the Establishment may make of the material. or a third person to whom the establishment has granted rights to the work. Also information may be requested on income or other advantages which the Establishment derives from the uses of the has achieved.

Income is income in money. The same also applies to other advantages, however, because also these can be measured in euros and cents. For example, if a station repeats a piece, it saves itself the cost of a new piece, which it would otherwise broadcast instead of repeating. These saved costs are an economic advantage that the broadcaster has to. These saved costs are an economic advantage, which the broadcaster would have to reimburse.

The right to information also applies to collecting societies. According to the statutory regulation, it does not exist if the request is disproportionate. 

The broadcasters initially did not want to comply with their obligation to grant the right to information. In the collective bargaining round in the summer of 2017, they demanded that the unions agree to a collective agreement according to which information is only to be provided when all the broadcasters have appropriate software capable of automatically providing information.

The trade unions have successfully opposed this. However, they have agreed to collective bargaining on the content, scope and ultimately proportionality of the right to information. These negotiations have failed for the time being.

It became clear in several rounds of negotiations that, on the one hand, the broadcasters are currently not able to provide information for all trades relevant to copyright. Furthermore, the broadcasters insist, for example, that lump-sum paid employees and salaried employees have no right to information. Likewise, persons whose works were created before 1 March 2017 but used after that date should not be able to request information in the opinion of the broadcasters.

Under these circumstances, a collective agreement can only lead to worse results than those provided for by law.

What should happen next? The trade unions encourage all authors to claim the legal right. If a claim is disputed, it may have to be enforced with the help of the courts. The legal protection of the trade unions is available for this purpose. We collect the cases and want to conduct exemplary proceedings as far as possible in order to clarify the disputed questions as soon as possible.


At DW, the corresponding collective agreement regulations for freelancers and permanent employees apply with regard to copyrights: