Collecting society

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A collecting society is an institution that collectively manages copyrights or related rights in trust for a large number of authors or owners of related rights for joint exploitation. Collecting societies are private institutions that have been assigned a legal monopoly in many countries for the performance of public tasks .

Its character lies between the quasi- trade union function of a solidarity community of its affiliated collective of authors vis-à-vis the economically stronger rights exploiters and a quasi-official function, compliance with the obligation to report when using works, e.g. B. at public performances, reproductions, radio and television broadcasts as well as distribution on the Internet to control.

Collecting societies in Germany

The legal basis of collecting societies in Germany is the Collecting Societies Act . A collecting society is therefore an organization that is legally or on the basis of a contractual agreement and whose exclusive or main purpose is to exercise copyrights or related rights for their collective benefit on behalf of several rightholders, regardless of whether in their own name or in someone else's name . In addition, to be a collecting society, the organization must meet at least one of the following conditions: 1. its shares are held or controlled by its members; 2. It is not geared towards making a profit. Collecting societies are not themselves owners of a copyright or related property right, but private organizations that act as associations. In Germany , the collecting societies are subject to the supervision of the German Patent and Trademark Office as well as the use of music due to a monopoly that has not been legal since 1945 (see STAGMA Act ) but is still recognized as a fact of the Federal Cartel Office ( § 18 Copyright Administration Act - UrhWG). With the increase in reproduction technologies such as tape , CD burners or other digital storage devices (USB sticks, hard drives, MP3 players), which are also accessible to consumers , the question arose as to whether copies of works for private non-commercial use also arose paid rights acquisition is required. The US legal system affirmed this, but at the same time introduced the exemption of royalty-free " fair use ". The continental European law, decided the production of individual copies of a work permit for private use ( § 53 para. 1 of the Copyright Act), but at the same time introduced a flat-rate charge and for reproduction equipment and blank media.

The fundamental amendment of the German law on copyright and related rights (UrhG) of 1965 created a remuneration claim for the author against the manufacturer and importer of devices and image and sound carriers that are clearly intended to be used for duplication ( Section 54 UrhG). These rights of the authors are exercised by GEMA and the collecting society VG Wort for the voice portion of radio and television broadcasts . The manufacturers are obliged to report to you. The proceeds are distributed to the authors organized in them. In 1985 , a remuneration obligation was included in the law for manufacturers and importers of photocopiers and for those who keep such devices available for the production of photocopies against payment ( Section 54a UrhG). The level of remuneration is regulated by § 54a and § 32 UrhG, although the law only speaks of "reasonable" remuneration.

Also in 1965, the Law on the Management of Copyrights and Related Rights (Copyright Management Law) was passed. According to this, legal or natural persons who are commissioned by authors to exercise their rights of use , consent rights or remuneration claims require permission from the supervisory authority, the patent office ( § 1 , § 2 UrhWG). The income is to be divided according to a public distribution plan in order to prevent arbitrary action. The distribution plan should correspond to the principle that culturally significant works and services are to be promoted ( Section 7 UrhWG). As of June 1, 2016, the Collecting Societies Act (VGG) replaced the previously applicable Copyright Administration Act.

Through their monopoly position with respect to the principles advocated by her works a collecting society is subject to a final forced against users of works: The collecting society is obliged due to the exercise of its rights anyone on request on reasonable terms to grant rights of use or consent to grant ( § 11 UrhWG). The collecting society has to set up tariffs and take appropriate account of the religious, cultural and social concerns of those obliged to pay the remuneration, including the concerns of youth care ( Section 13 UrhWG). Finally, the collecting society should set up pension and support facilities for the owners of the rights or claims it has exercised ( Section 8 UrhWG). This right to social protection for artists and publicists in pension , health and nursing care insurance was further regulated by the Artists' Social Insurance Act (KSVG) of 1983.

Example: GEMA

GEMA is the society for musical performance and mechanical reproduction rights. The quasi-union aspect (has nothing in common with the union for employees) of the collecting societies as advocates of their affiliated creatives and collective bargaining partners of the rights users speaks from the following sentence:

“Only collecting societies with an extensive, possibly all-encompassing repertoire are able to counterbalance the market power of the users of the works, which is constantly growing due to the mergers on the global media market - GEMA makes over 80 percent of its record sales with only five record producers . "

History and Development

The idea that authors get together to take over publishing functions on their own and for their own account led to the establishment of the first self- publishing company as early as the end of the 18th century (see Czychowski, 1998). The model has survived to this day with the publishing house of the authors or the film publishing house of the authors . Once published, sheet music could be played by any coffee house orchestra, and playing the record in particular could create dance and atmosphere in commercial establishments as often as desired.

The development and existence of collecting societies is not a new trend, as is often assumed when catchphrases like GEMA or GVL are used. Originated in the 19th century, the development of collecting societies is shaped by the field of music.

The driving force behind the emergence of collecting societies was largely the development of copyright law, driven by the adoption of the United States Constitution of 1788, which for the first time placed intellectual property under the protection of law. France followed this view and introduced the “propriété littéraire et artistique” (ownership of literature and art) by means of the revolutionary laws of 1791 and 1793. In 1837 Prussia created the "Law for the Protection of the Property of Works of Science and Art in Reprint and Replication", which was considered the most detailed and modern copyright of its time. The North German Confederation consistently continued the international considerations and in 1870 passed the law on copyright in written works, illustrations, musical compositions and dramatic works, which was adopted unchanged as a Reich law after the establishment of the Reich in 1871.

For more practical than judgmental reasons, the genres were separated at the beginning of the 20th century, and the law on copyright in works of literature and music, LUG for short, of June 19, 1901, and the law on copyright came into being Works of Fine Arts and Photography (KUG) of January 9, 1907. Both the KUG and the LUG could not withstand enormous technological advances in the fields of film, radio and television, as well as new reproduction technologies such as tape and photo. International developments in the area of ​​copyright law, such as B. the Revised Berne Convention (RBÜ for short). Further uncertainty and confusion came with the EU agreement on the protection of television broadcasts and the Rome agreement. In the following, authors were almost exclusively only protected by appropriately drafted judgments and associated legal interpretations and analogies, but no longer by law, so that a completely new regulation became inevitable - in 1965 the one that still applies today was created - and in 1990 on the territory of the GDR extended - "Law on Copyright and Related Rights", in short Copyright Act (UrhG).

As a result of new types of use of musical and dramatic works, which developed as early as the second half of the 19th century, the relationship between author and publisher also changed, who until then mostly only had rights of reproduction and distribution. The perception of the rights of authors changed fundamentally with the right to public performance of dramatic, musical and dramatic-musical works, which was granted with the new Copyright Act of 1870. The group of people who z. B. being able to perform a musical work in public and thus use the work in a way that was previously reserved for the author, expands suddenly and becomes unmanageable for the author. It is hardly possible for the author to monitor all public performances and to issue all usage licenses for a certain period or for a certain occasion. Nevertheless, an organizer or a performing artist is not in a position to obtain approval and performance rights from all rights holders whose pieces he is performing.

The way for collecting societies was thus paved. From then on, they collectively took care of the works brought in by authors and issued the necessary performance permits, whether for individual works or a comprehensive series of songs. The collecting societies also monitored all public events and collected the agreed remuneration. With these extensive tasks, they serve both the author and the exploiter or user.

Collecting societies in different nations


In Germany, the Collecting Societies Act (VGG) regulates the licensing and activities of collecting societies. The following companies are approved by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA):

Some of these companies have come together to form the Central Office for Private Transfer Rights (ZPÜ).


The Collecting Societies Act (VerwGesG) regulates collecting societies in Austria. The basis of these societies is the copyright law . The following collecting societies currently exist:

  • State-approved society of authors, composers and music publishers (AKM) , a cooperative, in particular for the (small) performance and broadcasting rights to works of music and the texts associated with it
  • Austro Mechana Society for the Perception of Mechanical-Musical Copyrights Gesellschaft mbH, in particular for the exploitation and evaluation of mechanical-musical copyrights
  • State-approved cooperative literary collecting society (LVG) reg. Gene. mb H., in particular for the (small) lecture and broadcasting rights to language works, as long as they are not related to music
  • Literar-Mechana Perception Society for Copyright Ges. Mb H., especially for the mechanical reproduction and distribution rights to language works
  • Bildrecht - Society for the Perception of Visual Rights GmbH
  • Realization of ancillary copyrights GmbH (LSG), joint collecting society of the performers and the producers of sound carriers and music videos (see also OESTIG / IFPI )
  • Collecting Society for Broadcasting (VGR)
  • Collecting Society for Audiovisual Media (VAM)
  • Collecting Society for Image and Sound (VBT)
  • Society for the Perception of Rights and Claims from Music Editions, reg. Gen.mbH (music edition)
  • Collecting Society of Filmmakers (VDFS)
  • Legal Protection Association of Photographers Austria (RSV), founded in 1969, currently represents around 1,700 photographers and press photographers from all over Austria in active copyright disputes (legal protection insurance) as a non-party, non-profit-making association.

Anyone who uses data carriers for copies that are not subject to remuneration can reclaim the flat-rate copyright levy (empty cassette remuneration) from Austro-Mechana, i.e. the private copying remuneration that is levied on blank CDs and hard drives, for example.


The Swiss Copyright Act provides for the following collecting societies:


The following collecting societies exist in France:

  • Administration of the Droits des Artistes et Musiciens Interprètes (ADAMI)
  • Société des Auteurs Dans les Arts Graphiques et Plastiques (ADAGP)
  • Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Éditeurs de Musique (SACEM)
  • Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD)
  • Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia (SCAM)
  • Syndicat National des Auteurs et Compositeurs (SNAC)

Hong Kong


In Italy there is the Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori (SIAE, Italian Society of Authors and Publishers), which is responsible for all types of works protected by copyright.





All musical exploitation rights in Namibia are taken over by the following organization:


The following collecting societies exist in Poland (selection):

  • Związek Autorów i Kompozytorów Scenicznych (ZAiKS, Association of Scenic Authors and Composers)
  • Związek Producentów Audio-Video (ZPAV, Association of Audio and Video Producers)
  • Związek Artystów Scen Polskich (ZASP, Association of Artists of Polish Scenes)
  • Stowarzyszenie Aktorów Filmowych i Telewizyjnych (SAFiT, Association of Film and TV Actors)
  • Związek Polskich Artystów Plastyków (ZPAP, Association of Polish Visual Artists)
  • Stowarzyszenie Architektów Polskich (SARP, Association of Polish Architects)
  • Związek Autorów i Producentów Audiowizualnych (ZAPA, Association of Audiovisual Authors and Producers)



The Spanish Copyright Law provides for the following collecting societies:

United Kingdom

United States of America

International umbrella organizations

The Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Auteurs et Compositeurs (CISAC) was founded in 1926 in Paris as the umbrella organization for collecting societies . Today it includes 161 member organizations in 87 countries, covering more than a million copyright ( creators ) with more than 100 million works from the fields of music , literature , film and visual arts represented. In 2003, the CISAC member companies collected royalties and fees totaling around 6.2 billion euros.

The collecting societies have come together to form European and international associations in order to protect foreign authors' rights. The umbrella organization of all VGs is the aforementioned CISAC. In the music sector, the Bureau International des Sociétés gérant les Droits d'Enregistrement et de Reproduction Mécanique (BIEM) represents the interests of authors in mechanical law. The BIEM negotiates a framework agreement with the international association of the panel industry, IFPI , according to which 9.009 percent of the retail price must be paid as fees.

Other umbrella organizations are the GESAC ( Groupement Européen des Sociétés d´Auteurs et Compositeurs ) and EVA ( European Visual Artists ).

With the increase in international trade in intellectual property, the call for a central rights clearing house is growing . Such a clearing house would keep information about all works and services in a huge database, about the rights to them, about the rights holders and the conditions under which they are willing to be licensed. The clearing house could directly represent a license agreement with the producer or forward the request to the individual rights holder. A first step in this direction is the Bureau for European Licensing , founded in 1995 in cooperation with GEMA, the French collecting societies in copyright and mechanical law SDRM / SACEM and the British MCPS , which appears on sound carriers under the tiny bel / BIEM logo . The Common Information System currently being developed by CISAC represents a more comprehensive approach .


  • Arne Christian Heindorf: The state supervision of collecting societies: basic structures, specifics, comparison with other forms of supervision of commercial administrative law. Studies on Intellectual Property and Copyright Law, Volume 74, Kovač, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8300-5353-8 . (see: Göttingen, Univ., Diss., 2010)
  • Volker Grassmuck : Free Software. Between private and public property. Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-89331-432-6 . (online) (PDF; 1.6 MB)
  • Thomas Gergen : The collecting society VG WORT: Genesis and new challenges In: Journal on European History of Law. Vol. 1, No. 2, STS Science Center, London, ( ISSN  2042-6402 ), pp. 14-19.

Web links

Commons : Collecting Societies  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ R. Kreile, J. Becker, K. Riesenhuber: Law and Practice of GEMA . Gruyter, 1997a, p. 638.
  2. List of collecting societies approved by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) in Germany (status: Oct. 2017)
  3. nmz (PM): collecting society for the exercise of organizer rights GWVR founded . New music newspaper . Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  4. ^ IFPI Austria - Association of the Austrian Music Industry. Accessed April 11, 2019 (German).