I.In a legal dispute about appropriate remuneration, the head cameraman of the internationally successful film classic “Das Boot”, Jost Vacano, has reached an agreement with the ARD broadcasters. The eighty-seven-year-old and the leading Südwestrundfunk in the dispute with eight broadcasters accepted the settlement agreed at the beginning of July before the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court in due time. The Westdeutsche Rundfunk, against which Vacano is suing in a procedure before the Munich Higher Regional Court, has also joined the settlement. The agreement provides for a settlement for Vacano totaling 160,000 euros plus sales tax (Ref. 4 U 2/18 and 29 U 2619/16).
For the film produced by director Wolfgang Petersen in 1980/1981, Vacano received a lump sum payment of 204,000 marks (around 104,300 euros). This should cover all copyrights. In 2002, however, the legislature introduced the so-called “fairness paragraph”. This grants the contributors a subsequent “reasonable participation” in a work protected by copyright if there is a “noticeable imbalance” between the originally agreed remuneration and the subsequent income.
Quite a few repetitions on TV
“Das Boot” was an international box office success with six Oscar nominations, which was followed by numerous television broadcasts. The sale of videos and DVDs brought the production company and the ARD broadcasters high income. Vacano therefore demanded what he believed to be a fair share.
The Federal Court of Justice ruled in 2012 that the cameraman can in principle request information about the proceeds generated with the film. For the exploiters of film works, this meant that authors such as directors or cameramen had to participate more in the subsequent box office success. In September 2018, the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court determined a total of 315,000 euros plus sales tax as an “appropriate participation” for the broadcast of the film on the public broadcasters. The cameraman must also be involved in future broadcasts of “Das Boot”. Eight ARD stations, including the SWR, were complained about. The broadcaster then went into revision and brought the case to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). This overturned the decision of the Stuttgart judges in February 2020 and rejected the legal dispute due to a calculation error to the OLG Stuttgart for a new hearing.
In the dispute with the WDR, the production company Bavaria Film and the video exploiter Eurovideo, the Munich Higher Regional Court awarded Vacano another 588,000 euros plus interest as an author’s reference in 2017. This dispute also landed before the BGH. This ruled last April that the Munich Higher Regional Court had also incorrectly calculated the additional copyright remuneration for Vacano in the lower court, and also rejected the dispute for renewed negotiation. At first it was not possible to find out whether Bavaria and Eurovideo will also conclude a comparison.
The SWR announced that Vacano would now declare the proceedings against the WDR in Munich to be over. The severance payment includes “all programs in all programs of ARD including 3sat and Arte that have taken place in the past, as well as interest and an amount for future programs”. The “value” of future broadcasts is not calculated according to the repetition fee model, but according to the new point model of a joint fee regulation that has been in force since January 1, 2019 for ARD commissioned productions. For “Das Boot” this model has been adapted both with regard to the “camera” trade and with regard to the length of the various versions of the production.