Setting Standards.

Digitisation has given rise to fundamental questions in the area of licencing rights. In particular, the so-called GEMA assumption, which requires that anyone who publishes works created by others must disclose their authorship, has attracted vigorous criticism. We acted as legal counsel in the court proceedings, which ultimately upheld the GEMA assumption in the last instance, securing artists’ ability to earn a living from their work.

That a legal dispute about a single CD can have a decisive impact on licencing law was demonstrated in the proceedings against “Musikpiraten” (Music Pirates). This association had published a CD containing a piece of music whose author it refused to disclose to GEMA, and for which it also failed to pay the applicable licencing fees. The association claimed that the artist had worked under a pseudonym and had allowed the track to be used based on a Creative Commons (CC) licence. However, pursuant to the GEMA assumption, Musikpiraten would have been obliged to provide evidence that GEMA had not been assigned any copyrights for the track in question. For GEMA to verify the matter by checking the Creative Commons licence, the author’s true name would have had to be disclosed. As the court of last instance has now confirmed, authors’ real names must be disclosed even if they published their works under a pseudonym.

This decision represents a landmark in licencing law, safeguarding fundamental values. Rights of authors can only be enforced and unlicensed usage condemned on the basis of the GEMA assumption, which thus ensures that artists and publishers receive fair remuneration for any use of their work. Authors’ livelihoods and the pursuit of creative musical work as a whole rely on this assurance. The legal proceedings surrounding the GEMA assumption demonstrate that it is necessary to adjust to changing realities in order to preserve values over time.

We are not only a leading provider of advisory services in the field of energy law, but have continually set standards in copyright and publishing law as well, which proves that the impact of our work reaches far beyond our core business. This is true of the energy and infrastructure industry as well, where more than half of the 500 leading network operators use our network usage agreements, and 400 out of 900 large-scale suppliers rely on our supply contracts.