Bereich DPMA

Supervision under the CMO Act

Collective management organisations (CMOs) are associations under private law in which authors have joined together. CMOs collect royalties for the use of the works created by their members and right holders and they distribute the revenues to creative people according to fixed distribution schemes. Without CMOs, creative people would have to individually find out about when and where their works are being used and grant their own licences for the uses. However, since the uses are very diverse and take place on such a massive scale, it would be an extremely arduous task or an almost impossible one for an individual. This is why many creative people have their rights managed by CMOs.

Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar
A comprehensive collection of protected works: Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar

As the CMOs are mostly specialised in one sector — GEMA, for example, in musical works and VG Wort in literary works – they usually have a de facto monopoly position in their sector. For this reason and because they act in a fiduciary capacity for their right holders, CMOs are subject to government supervision by the DPMA under the Collective Management Organisations Act (CMO Act – Verwertungsgesellschaftengesetz). As supervisory authority we act in the public interest. Requests and complaints from right holders or users also prompt us to carry out an investigation. We ensure that the organisation of CMOs complies with the statutory requirements. Furthermore, we monitor compliance by CMOs with the obligations towards their members and right holders, on the one hand, and the users, on the other hand. In this respect, we check, among other things, whether they comply with the requirements for setting tariffs. The amount to be paid for a particular use is specified in the tariffs set by the CMOs. The Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) has clarified our scope of competence in this respect. On 17 June 2020, it confirmed that the supervisory authority is entitled to carry out a comprehensive examination of CMO tariffs. The court also held that CMOs had an obligation to identify to the extent necessary the rights managed by them prior to setting a tariff.

In agreement with the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), the DPMA has so far granted authorisation to conduct business to 13 CMOs. In 2019, the total revenues generated by CMOs amounted to about 1.68 billion euros. The amount of each individual CMO is listed in the table.

Revenues of the collective management organisations in 2019
1 The total budget includes income from licenses, claims to remuneration, income from interest and securities as well as other operating income.
Collective Management OrganisationsTotal budget 1 in 2019
GEMA Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, rechtsfähiger Verein kraft Verleihung €1,069.377m
GVL Gesellschaft zur Verwertung von Leistungsschutzrechten mbH €215.451m
VG Wort Verwertungsgesellschaft WORT, rechtsfähiger Verein kraft Verleihung €158.191m
VG Bild-Kunst Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst, rechtsfähiger Verein kraft Verleihung €61.952m
VG Musikedition Verwertungsgesellschaft Musikedition, rechtsfähiger Verein kraft Verleihung €8.578m
GÜFA Gesellschaft zur Übernahme und Wahrnehmung von Filmaufführungsrechten mbH €5.887m
VFF Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten mbH €31.152m
VGF Verwertungsgesellschaft für Nutzungsrechte an Filmwerken mbH €9.352m
GWFF Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- und Fernsehrechten mbH €47.168m
AGICOA GmbH AGICOA Urheberrechtsschutz-Gesellschaft mbH €24.522m
VG Media Gesellschaft zur Verwertung der Urheber- und Leistungsschutzrechte von Sendeunternehmen und Presseverlegern mbH €54.399m
TWF Treuhandgesellschaft Werbefilm mbH €2.988m
GWVR Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Veranstalterrechten mbH €1,200
Total €1,683.132m

People working in the creative industries, in particular, have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. They suffered great losses due to the cancellation of concerts and other events. In order to support the particularly affected members and right holders as quickly and with as little bureaucracy as possible, many CMOs have launched measures to support them and paid out financial support through the existing social funds.

The revenues of the CMOs for 2020 are expected to be significantly lower in many areas than in previous years. For example, CMOs lost revenues from royalties for music, television and radio programmes often played in public at restaurants, gyms and numerous other establishments because these venues were closed.

The pandemic made the work of the CMOs more difficult: Meetings of the supervisory bodies and their committees as well as general meetings had often to be postponed or held online.

We also keep the register of anonymous and pseudonymous works. The purpose of this register is to grant the regular period of protection under the Copyright Act (Urheberrechtsgesetz) to those authors who published their work anonymously or under a pseudonym. It prescribes that copyright in a work normally expires 70 years after the death of the author. However, for anonymous works or works published under a pseudonym, the author is often unknown so that copyright in those works expires 70 years after creation or publication of the work. By registering the real name of the author in the register, copyright protection can be extended to the general period of protection. A detailed overview can be found in the chapter “Statistics”.

Under certain conditions, CMOs may also license rights to certain out-of-commerce works, i.e. works that are no longer available. This allows non-profit organisations (e.g. museums, libraries, archives) to make them available to the public in a digitised format. Through the entry in the register of out-of-commerce works, the author of the work (and thus the right holder) learns of the CMO’s intention to license the work and can object to the management of the rights by the CMO. The register is freely accessible via our website. By the end of 2020, 33,000 works were registered.