Author specializing in general copyright: Dr. jur. Isabel Tillmann, Bad Honnef/Rhöndorf
Co-Author in the area of performing arts: Dr. Sebastian Schunke, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Berlin
Authors specializing in collecting societies: Dr. Anke Schierholz, Mechthild Schwarz, Verwertungsgesellschaft / Collecting Society" BILD-KUNST, Bonn


Despite numerous efforts at the European level, copyright in Europe has not been fully harmonized. When working abroad within the European Union (and even more so in countries outside the EU), artists and creatives are usually confronted with different legal situations than in their home countries. In addition to the agreements and policies that have been created at the European level that shape the national legal norms in Europe, there are a number of international agreements, the so-called Revised Bern Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, and, in the context of the WTO/GATS, the so-called TRIPS Agreement.

However, EU harmonization has taken place in some areas of copyright. The resale right, which is so important for the visual arts, for example, has been harmonized by a directive, which grants certain countries transition periods for implementation. This concerns, for example, the UK, an important marketplace for auctions. 

The directive on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society from the year 2001 aimed to adapt copyright regulations to the requirements of technological development. In view of the wiggle room that member states have with regard to the implementation, and also because not all defined limits (see Limitations to copyright) are mandatory, one can hardly speak of complete harmonization. This link (in German) provides an overview of the implementation in the context of the so-called “first basket” and “second basket." 

The following websites offer an overview of the prevailing legal norms, as well as the ongoing discussions: Federal Ministry of Justice and for Consumer Protection (BMJV); European Commission, on resale rightWorld Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO. 

Example 1: 
A German media artist wants to use excerpts of a video dance performance by a British artist for his/her installation. The British artist is not a member of a collecting society. (see administration of rights without collecting societies)

Example 2: 
 A Brazilian theater that has seen a German theater play during a festival wants to adapt and translate the text of the play for performance in Brazil. The author is not represented by a publishing company or a collecting society. (see administration of rights without collecting societies)

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