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What are synchronisation rights?

The film synchronisation right comes into play when musical works protected by copyright are used in an audiovisual production such as a cinema movie or a video game. Should a licensee, for example a cinema producer, want to use a song in a cinema movie, he needs to clear the synchronisation rights for the fact that he combines a film work with a musical work and consequently a new product emerges. This film synchronisation right is also referred to as sync right, in our department we like to refer to it as “HR” for the German “Herstellungsrecht” (= sync right).

1) Own or commissioned television productions
In the case of own (in-house) or commissioned television productions by public service or private broadcasters intended for their own broadcasting or re-broadcasting purposes, GEMA manages the synchronisation right and grants this right to the respective broadcasters via a framework agreement.  Said agreement allows the broadcasters to use the repertoire managed by GEMA without having to clear the rights in each individual case. If, however, third parties are participating in the production or if the production is intended to be used by third parties, the consent to use the music for the creation of a TV production must generally be obtained from the rightsholder up front. This shall apply in particular to co-productions.

2) Advertising
Permission to use music for the production of advertising films, commercials etc. of the advertising industry (e.g. for use in cinemas or on the television) must be obtained exclusively from the rightsholder.  In this area, a transfer of the synchronisation right to GEMA is not intended.

3) Use of music in in media collections for teaching (Section 60b UrhG)
Pursuant to s. 60b UrhG [German Copyright Act], the producers of media collections for teaching purposes shall be subject to a special privilege regarding the use of music in the media produced by them for teaching purposes. Such a privileged status allows, under certain conditions, that the musical works are used without having to obtain an authorisation or consent.

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