Step by step, our guide will lead you to all the important information you might need for your international work.

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The Guide


A German musician composes music pieces for a theatre production in New York. Who owns the copyrights?


An Israeli dance company is invited to perform at a festival in Germany. Copyrighted text excerpts from third parties are used in the production. What rights must the organiser in Germany obtain beforehand?

Here you will find detailed information on the rights of authors and performers of all disciplines in the national and international context, as well as tips on the clarification of specific rights: What do you have to do if, for example, you want to clarify rights of use as an organiser or curator?

The general rule is as follows:

  • If artistic works that meet the threshold of originality are created in the context of a collaboration, for example with clients or partners, the question of how the use of the works will be regulated should be clarified in advance. If the copyright laws of a foreign country apply, you should check carefully who owns the copyrights to these works.
  • Third-party rights should be clarified well in advance of a performance, exhibition, etc. This is especially important for international projects, which further complicate these issues, because making creative content available to an audience theoretically requires a separate rights clearance process for each country in which an event takes place.
  • There is no globally uniform copyright law; even within the European Union, only partial harmonisation of national rights has been achieved to date (see the information provided by the European Commission). In copyright law, the law of the country whose territory is affected applies (territoriality principle). However, there are numerous international agreements in which the different legal situations converge to a certain extent.
  • The respective national law determines the owner of the rights of use, the term of protection of works, the restrictions to which the copyright is subject, and how the rights can be transferred (for example via collecting societies or directly through the owner of the rights).

Performances take place in the USA, the Netherlands, and Hungary as part of a tour during which photographs by a photographer are used for the stage set. It is necessary to check carefully whether the photos may be used in each of these countries.