Collecting society word

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The collecting society Wort ( VG Wort ), based in Munich, administers the royalties from secondary exploitation rights to language works, including radio and television , in Germany ; Authorized are authors and translators of aesthetic and dramatic, journalistic and scientific texts, which the author has registered with VG Wort using a registration form or via the Internet . The collecting society was founded in February 1958 at the instigation of the then Association of German Writers (VS for short; at that time a registered association). Georg Kahn-Ackermann was one of the co-founders and later honorary president.

The collecting society Wort is a business association that has been granted legal capacity by the state ( Section 22 BGB , Section 1 Paragraph 4 UrhWG ). The collecting society Wort is subject to the collecting societies law and is under the state supervision of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).

Purpose of society

For copies of works protected by copyright, taxes are paid that are linked to the copier, for example. To ensure that only a uniform fee is required when making photocopies and when copying audio and video cassettes , whereby word, music and images are copied, the collecting societies involved have agreed on a distribution key for the flat-rate fees levied on them (e.g. the library royalty ) agreed. The distribution key is calculated on the basis of empirical test studies on the utilization of copyable and rentable materials.

Since the reform of copyright law in 1972, the authors and (until the judgment of the BGH in 2016) the publishers have also been entitled to remuneration for lending their works in public libraries . Additional income comes from reading circle payments for lending and renting works, payments for the use of articles in press reviews , for reprints in school books . The highest volume of taxes in the area of reprography remuneration comes from device taxes .

Part of the fee income is distributed to the authors in the following year according to a complex distribution formula. The members of VG Wort decide on changes to the distribution plans at the annual general meeting. The other part of the income flows, in addition to financing your own administration, and a. into the artists ' social security fund as a contribution to the statutory social insurance for freelance artists and journalists, into the authors' pension scheme, which grants freelance authors grants for private retirement provision, into a social fund that provides subsidies for needy word authors, publishers or their surviving dependents, as well as into the support and subsidy funds Science of the VG Wort.


The board of directors is appointed by the board of directors. The members of the board are Rainer Just (executive), Robert Staats (executive) as well as Hans Peter Bleuel, Eckhard Kloos and Artur-Axel Wandtke .

Board of Directors

The honorary members active in the board of directors are elected for four years by the general assembly and the board of directors has extensive control powers. The current chairman is the publisher's representative Prof. Dr. Bernhard von Becker and deputy chairwoman the author Gerlinde Schermer-Rauwolf.

Royalties and Distribution

More than 400,000 authors and 9,500 publishers were registered with VG Wort in 2009. The one-time registration and the annual filing of claims with VG Wort are free of charge for authors and publishers. The number of actual dividend recipients in 2009 was 148,775, including 143,132 authors and 5,643 publishers.

The net proceeds from the exercise of copyrights amounted to 117.89 million euros in 2008, of which 67.69 million euros were distributed to authors and publishers in the following year. With 65.54 million euros, around 56% of the income came from the copier levies , 14% (16.64 million euros) from radio and television stations.

At the end of 2008, VG Wort and the industry association Bitkom agreed on a flat fee for printers, which the manufacturers will pay to VG Wort retrospectively from January 1, 2008. In addition to these 34 million euros in additional income, the device industry made back payments for multifunctional devices for the years 2002 to 2007 in the amount of 282 million euros, which increased the total income in 2009 by 316.49 million euros to 434.38 million euros. By far the largest share (377.15 million) came from the copier levies, which in addition to photocopiers now also included multifunctional devices, scanners and printers.

In 2010, income in almost all areas was at the level of 2008; the area of ​​copier remuneration generated 61 million euros, almost half of the total revenue of 131.69 million euros. As a result of retrospective income for the use of audio and audiovisual works on PCs in the years 2002 to 2007, income in the radio / television sector, which includes all types of audiovisual media, increased from 10.77 to 26.83 million euros.

The distribution plans have changed over the years. The authors can now approve or reject the participation of their respective publisher. However, this decision is made anonymous so that the publisher does not receive any information on how the individual authors have decided.

BGH ruling on distribution practice

The distributions were divided equally between authors and publishers by VG Wort until the BGH judgment. On April 21, 2016, after years of dispute, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that the money belongs exclusively to the authors. The distributions in 2013 were around 92 million euros and in 2014 just under 106 million euros.

The verdict of the judge showed that the previous distribution practice of VG Wort was flawed. The distribution plan of VG Wort provides a special regulation for such distribution errors, which enables subsequent correction. The distribution therefore had to be partially reversed and re-done. VG Wort has set up provisions for this.

The publishers concerned, which had received distributions from VG Wort in the years 2012 to 2015, had to repay them. The payment requests for this were sent by VG Wort in October 2016. In addition, authors could make a declaration to VG Wort if they wished to grant the publisher a proportionate fee or if they wished to forego receiving the publisher's share entirely. For data protection reasons, VG Wort does not pass this declaration on to the respective publisher, but uses it anonymously to calculate the distribution key. In individual cases, the publishers have reduced their fees and put pressure on the authors. In the media there was talk of a total of around 100 million euros in recovery, which could bring medium-sized publishers in particular into economic distress. In contrast, the large publishers benefited considerably from the 50% quota. It is estimated that the distributions to the publishers accounted for between 20 and 200 percent of annual profits.

Texts on the Internet (METIS)

Since 2007, online texts have also been paid for by the VG-Wort reporting system for texts on websites (METIS). The initial payment was made at the end of October 2008. In principle, any website operator or author can receive the remuneration. B. also includes bloggers . However, this is associated with various requirements: These texts must be free and freely available, i.e. readable without password protection. In addition, a minimum number of visitors per year must be achieved, which is measured by means of tracking pixels specially assigned by VG Wort.

Texts on websites of publishers or other website operators that the author himself cannot identify with a tracking pixel can also be reported in an annual special distribution. A one-time registration as an author with VG Wort and registration for the corresponding online reporting system TOM was possible until June 1, 2016 without a management agreement until the end of each year. Authors can also register voice recorders and speaking rights there. Texts published on the Internet can be registered continuously for the respective survey year. So far, however, only a few publishers and websites have taken advantage of VG Wort's online remuneration. This is due, among other things, to the comparatively high cost of text registration. With the entry into force of the Collecting Societies Act (VGG), collecting societies may only operate for rights holders for whom a corresponding management agreement has been concluded. VG Wort has adapted its articles of association in Section 3 accordingly, so that a corresponding management agreement is also required for the area of ​​texts on the Internet (METIS). Since February 1, 2018, a management agreement is therefore also required for the previous beneficiaries in order to be able to report texts. Furthermore, with a transitional period, only works that have been published from the year in which a management agreement was concluded may be reported here.

However, the number of participating authors and page reports increased sixfold in 2009 compared to the previous year. More than 200,000 METIS reports are now processed every year. In 2009, 616,285 euros were distributed to 2,466 authors and 39 publishers for texts on the Internet.

Making available for teaching and research

According to § 52a UrhG, it is permitted under certain conditions to make works for teaching and research publicly available for a reasonable fee. According to a decision by the Federal Court of Justice , universities have to report copyrighted sources in lecture scripts to VG Wort from January 1, 2017 . It is envisaged that each page of a script must be reported and paid for individually. For the year 2017, a transitional arrangement was found between KMK and VG Wort, which allows an appropriate flat-rate remuneration according to the current status.

In a ruling from 2013 on a legal dispute at the Distance University in Hagen , the Federal Court of Justice interpreted Section 52a UrhG in more detail. Accordingly, it is a matter of “small” parts of a work if a maximum of 12% and no more than 100 pages of a language work are provided when access is granted. In addition to reading on the screen, the participants are allowed to print out and save the provided works. The starting point was a lawsuit filed by Alfred Kröner Verlag for a total of 91 pages of text from a 528-page specialist book. However, the limit set by the Federal Court of Justice for the release does not apply "if the right holder has offered the university an appropriate license for the use in question."

Digitization projects

In January 2009 VG Wort announced that it wanted to represent the rights of German authors and publishers vis-à-vis the US company Google Inc., which at that time had already scanned seven million books from US libraries.

On May 23, 2009 the general assembly of VG Wort decided to exercise certain rights of its authors in connection with the Google settlement agreement and other national and European digitization projects, provided that these are assigned to them by the authors. Since then, VG Wort has also represented the rights of its authors in the digital use of out-of-print works and for the display of bibliographic data of works on the Internet.

Sales tax treatment

The royalties paid by VG Wort to the authors and publishers are subject to sales taxation as other services. (see UStAE 3.1 para. 4). The reduced tax rate of 7% is to be used for domestic authors or publishers (see Section 12 (2) No. 7b UStG). If the authorized person is not a small business owner and VG Wort provides their tax number or sales tax ID, VG Wort pays the remuneration gross, ie plus sales tax. This is to be paid by the respective author or publisher to the tax office. VG Wort asserts a corresponding input tax deduction. Small entrepreneurs are those whose sales did not exceed € 17,500 in the past year and who will not exceed € 50,000 in the current year (cf. §19 Paragraph 1 UStG). There is the possibility of opting for sales tax (see §19 Paragraph 2 UStG). If the beneficiary is a small business owner or does not provide any or no valid tax number or sales tax ID, he receives the royalties net, i.e. H. Paid without sales tax. There is also the option of retrospectively reimbursing sales tax. With the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of January 18, 2017, C-37/16 (SAWP), distributions that are subject to statutory remuneration claims according to §§ 27, 54, 54a and 54c UrhG (e.g. scientific publications or library royalties no longer apply) VAT in contrast to remuneration from the areas of public broadcasting of radio or television (so-called other statutory remuneration claims). Here, VG Wort changed its distribution policy on January 1st, 2020.

Texts in the music field

In the musical field, GEMA exercises the performance and reproduction rights of composers , copywriters and publishers.


See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. a b c d VG Wort annual report for 2009 (PDF; 1.4 MB), April 2010
  3. ^ VG Wort: Authors' Pension Fund , accessed on January 31, 2010
  4. ^ VG Wort: Social Fund , accessed on January 31, 2011
  5. ^ VG Wort: Science Promotion and Aid Fund ( Memento from January 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on January 31, 2011
  6. ^ VG WORT: Board of Directors. Retrieved July 7, 2019 .
  7. ↑ Copier levies are levied by collecting societies from the manufacturers of copiers and blank media as remuneration for copying copyrighted works , which is only permitted as an exception by law ( tariff overview ) and - after deducting various costs - forwarded to those authors who submit their claims to the Register the relevant collecting society for the type of work.
  8. VG Wort annual report for 2008 (PDF; 217 kB), April 2009
  9. VG Wort annual report for 2010 ( Memento from December 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 220 kB), March 2012
  11. Federal Court of Justice decides against the VG Wort . Press release from April 21, 2016.
  12. Press release No. 75/16 from April 21, 2016 .
  13. SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany: VG Wort: ECJ judgment also affects a case in Germany . In: SPIEGEL ONLINE . November 12, 2015.
  14. Important questions and answers on the lawsuit against the distribution plan of VG Wort , November 11, 2013.
  15. VG Bild-Kunst: The case of Vogel / VG Wort - VG Bild-Kunst .
  16. [1] .
  17. a b "I am embarrassed about self-pity": How publishers try to suppress the VG-Wort repayments - report by MEEDIA GmbH & Co. KG of February 8, 2017
  18. Publishing houses in distress , in: Der Tagesspiegel, November 2, 2016.
  19. Report TOM Texts Online .
  20. ^ Andreas Unkelbach: Registration VG Wort and administration agreement. Retrieved August 1, 2020 .
  21. Judgment of March 20, 2013 - I ZR 84/11 - Remuneration for posting texts on the university intranet, press release no. 50/2013
  22. Students will soon have to do more research. Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 7, 2015, accessed on December 7, 2015 .
  23. Universities can also issue scripts unbureaucratically in 2016. Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 9, 2015, accessed on December 23, 2015 .
  24. Judgment of November 28, 2013 - I ZR 76/12 - Milestones in Psychology, Press Release No. 194/2013 , Federal Court of Justice on the use of copyrighted works on electronic learning platforms at universities
  25. ^ SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany: Digitized books: VG Wort wants money from Google . In: SPIEGEL ONLINE . January 19, 2009.
  26. VG Wort is setting up on Google Books , heise online, May 25, 2009 , accessed September 3, 2009
  27. ^ Dietrich von Hase: Get back sales tax on VG Wort royalties. In: August 3, 2010, archived from the original on June 12, 2012 ; Retrieved June 22, 2012 .
  28. ^ Andreas Unkelbach: Background decision of the EUGH on sales tax on distributions from collecting societies to authors. Retrieved July 10, 2020 .