Why an association?

VG Bild-Kunst has the legal status of an economic association. Compared to a normal association, like a tennis club for example, an economic association focuses on its business operations. It is not founded by having it entered in the Register of Associations, but needs to be awarded a government charter. Otherwise, however, association law applies. This also brings certain benefits for the members.

Members' Voting Rights

The members themselves decide on the main issues affecting the association. They cast their votes at the General Meeting, its supreme organ. The founders of VG Bild-Kunst considered this co-determination to be an essential right, as all the members contribute major portions of their assets to VG Bild-Kunst in the form of copyrights. As far as vote weighting at VG Bild-Kunst is concerned, the principle that each member has one vote holds true, which means that they all have equal rights when it comes to adopting decisions. The General Meeting therefore works like a parliament.


Authors and their heirs can join one of the three professional groups and become members of VG Bild-Kunst. Publishers and photo agencies also qualify for membership, when the relevant rights have been assigned to them. If, for example a photographer works for a photo agency and assigns his photographic or pictorial rights to this agency, then the agency can become a member through these rights. For film producers, VG Bild-Kunst can administer the statutory related rights.

Membership is initiated by concluding an administration agreement, under which the rightholder assigns his or her rights or parts thereof to VG Bild-Kunst along with any claims: membership is obtained by conclusion of the agreement, and it is ended by termination of the administration agreement.

Duties of the General Meeting

Most important of all is certainly the sole powers of the General Meeting to draw up the distribution plan. This plan contains the rules for the distribution of royalties received. As the distribution plan is a dynamic set of regulations that has to be constantly adapted and adjusted to new situations, individual changes are normally proposed each year at the General Meeting and then voted on by the members. These amendments have direct impact on the amounts paid out to every member affected by the provision in question. There are of course statutory limits to the General Meeting's scope for action: distribution rules must be reasonable, otherwise they are not valid. Further details are provided in Art. 14 of the Articles of Association (German version).

Besides having authority over the distribution plan, the General Meeting also has the task of approving the annual financial statements, discharging the executive board and deciding on the financial resources of the two 'Kulturwerk' and 'Sozialwerk' foundations. In addition, every three years the members of the Administrative Council are elected by the General Meeting. 

Motions for the General Meeting must be submitted to the Secretariat in Bonn no later than six weeks before the date set for the meeting. Any motions received after this date will be added to the agenda and only dealt with during the meeting if approved by the General Meeting.

The agenda is sent to all members at the latest than three weeks before the meeting.

Course of the General Meeting

The General Meeting is usually held in July. First of all the three professional groups have separate meetings, where they discuss and deliberate on the proposed changes to the distribution plan. Every three years, these meetings of the professional groups nominate five members and five deputies from their midst for election to the new Administrative Council. In parallel, they each propose an honorary member of the Executive Board of VG Bild-Kunst. The professional groups' representatives in the advisory councils of the 'Stiftung Sozialwerk' and 'Stiftung Kulturwerk' foundations are also nominated.

The General Meeting is held after the separate meetings of the professional groups. In most cases, the General Meeting only consists of formal votes. If, for example, an amendment to the distribution plan concerns just the film authors, it therefore only has to be approved by Professional Group III. There are of course also general matters that affect all the professional groups and all members. These topics are discussed in the plenary General Meeting, before a vote is taken.

Duties of the Administrative Council

The Administrative Council supervises the management of the Executive Board and concludes an employment contract with the Chief Executive Officer. It decides on all significant agreements, in particular amendments and additions to the administration agreement. The Administrative Council itself elects the honorary members of the Executive Board proposed by all the professional groups' meetings.

Assignment of Voting Rights

Anyone who is prevented from attending the General Meeting or the meeting of their professional group, can assign their voting rights to another member or to a professional organisation for the relevant calendar year. The organisations receive the relevant powers from the meeting of the professional group in question. Assignments of voting rights must be received by the Secretariat of VG Bild-Kunst no later than three working days before the meeting. They may be revoked at any time.