German cinematographers get royalties

The German Society of Cinematographers (BVK – Berufsverband Kinematografie) has negotiated and signed a breakthrough agreement to enable cinematographers to receive payments when a fiction film or series is successfully broadcasted by one of the channels of ProSiebenSat.1 group.

The joint remuneration agreement is back-dated to the 2002 improvement in German copyright law affecting creators. Payments to be made are estimated to amount to Euros 1.2 million for the years 2002 to 2014. These will be distributed individually and directly from the company to the cinematographers involved. The BVK is entitled to control the steps of the exploitation and success made by the individual film/series and to check payments.

The formula for assessing the payments is based on feature films and series successfully screened. Payments accrue for productions made by or for ProSiebenSat.1 and depend on the audience range of the program. The higher the audience range the higher the payment. Included in the range are DVD/Blu-ray sales and downloads. Further participation may accrue if the production is sold abroad.

This is a historic first in the world of private broadcasting stations dealing with cinematographers. The background for the BVK to negotiate contracts with broadcasters is its ongoing fight for participation of cinematographers in the turnover (not profit!) from the exploitation of their contribution to the filmic work. The recognition of cinematographers as co-creators was recently underlined by the Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s highest civil court, in its decision regarding Jost Vacano BVK. This internationally acclaimed and OSCAR-nominated colleague intends to recover some of the gross profits made over decades by the production company responsible for the Award winning film “Das Boot”, by the broadcasting stations and the video distributor. The BVK and its board can be congratulated on their fight for the authors’ rights of Cinematographers.

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