What do we do?

VG Bild-Kunst represents the copyrights of creators of visual art in Germany. It concludes licensing agreements with users, in which it stipulates the conditions of usage. It monitors receipt of the agreed remuneration and distributes the royalties to the rights owners. In addition, it is committed to and supports the strengthening of copyrights on national and international level.

Bild-Kunst and Copyright

Copyright law grants artists a wide range of rights in and to their works. Depending on the genre of work involved, these rights vary in importance: in the case of a painting, it is not uncommon for it to be photographed and then printed in magazines.

On the other hand, it is seldom broadcast on television, for example as part of a report covering an exhibition. The situation is different for a feature film: its main purpose is to be presented in the cinema or broadcast on television. In addition, it can also be physically marketed as a DVD or offered online for downloading or as a stream.

As a rule, authors have assigned their rights to the producer exploiting the film. A photographer, for instance, grants certain rights in his or her photographs to the editorial department of a newspaper. However, for some rights individual management would be difficult, if possible at all. For example, when a work of art is resold (a second time) through a gallery, thus giving rise to a resale royalty right, the artist is very often not informed.

Moreover, the law grants authors many royalty claims as compensation for uses that are of interest to the general public and therefore permitted by law. Private copies or the library royalty are good examples of such claims. In most cases, these statutory royalty claims can only be asserted against the payer through collecting societies. As a collecting society, VG Bild-Kunst is subject to supervision by the German Patent and Trademark Office.

Benefits for Members

VG Bild-Kunst administers different rights and royalty claims for its members according to which professional group they belong to. In every case, these are rights and claims that cannot be individually converted into cash, or only with great difficulty. As membership does not cost anything, it is a worthwhile proposition even for authors just starting out in their profession or for artists, who only occasionally create works.

More about the rights and claims we administer

Benefits for Users

A collecting society also brings advantages for those people and institutions wishing to use rights or who have to pay royalty claims: it offers them a contact partner for the rights of a large number of authors and this can help them substantially reduce their administrative costs. Collecting societies are also required by law to publish binding tariffs (price lists) for their rights and claims, so that users can make calculations with a certain degree of reliability.

Our tariffs (English Version)

The most important rights we administer

Reproduction rights

In this field, VG Bild-Kunst grants publishers permits to reproduce the works of visual artists. It checks voucher copies and charges for usage. Receipts are credited directly to the authors’ accounts after deducting their administrative costs and making the social and cultural deductions laid down in the distribution plan. Distributions are made twice a year.

Broadcasting right

VG Bild-Kunst has entered into blanket agreements with the public broadcasting organisations that cover the broadcasting of works of visual art. Its staff members evaluate recordings of the complete television programme and determine whether and when the works were broadcast by which artist on television and so distribute the lump-sum payments to the artists whose works were transmitted.

Resale royalty right

The resale royalty right makes provision for artists to receive a percentage share of the selling price of a work, when it is directly sold a second time by a gallery or the artist after the first sale. To facilitate management of the resale royalty right, VG Bild-Kunst and the art trade associations have jointly set up the Ausgleichsvereinigung (AV) Kunst, which is operated as a GbR (company established under civil law) and an independent department in VG Bild-Kunst. Galleries, auction houses and art dealers, who are not members of AV Kunst, must each year provide information about sales made in the past year that were subject to the resale royalty right and these are settled individually.

Statutory Royalty Claims

For the statutory royalty claims of all the professional groups, VG Bild-Kunst has concluded general agreements covering the lump-sum royalties payable for usage. These royalties are distributed in accordance with the distribution plan on the basis of works notified by members. Royalties are distributed to the rights owners once a year.

Search for Artists

Any users wishing to know what artists are represented by VG Bild-Kunst in the field of visual art, can use our Search for Artists facility. We do not offer this service for the fields of photography and film, because in these sectors we almost exclusively administer statutory royalty claims.

More about our Search for Artists facility

Sister Societies Abroad

VG Bild-Kunst does not just represent its own members. Its also claims to offer as comprehensive repertoire as possible in its various fields of activity and for this reason maintains relations with all the relevant foreign collecting societies operating in the visual sector.