C’right legislation irks Teuton pols, producers

Conservatives call it constitutionally and economically questionable

BERLIN — A proposed copyright law that opponents say could endanger Germany’s film and TV industry has met with strong resistance in the federal parliament.

Norbert Geis, head of legal affairs for the conservative CDU parliamentary faction, said his party rejected the proposed law from Gerhard Schroeder’s left-of-center coalition government, calling it constitutionally and economically questionable.

According to the Federal Justice Ministry, the proposed changes would guarantee fairer compensation for authors, freelance journalists, performing artists and translators.

Broadcasters and producers object to the rights the new bill would confer upon freelancers, such as allowing them to demand additional pay retroactively up to 10 years after the signing of a contract if they believe they had failed to get fair and proper compensation. Such a law, broadcasters and producers argue, would lead to a flood of lawsuits that would result in a drastic reduction in local TV and film productions.

The CDU said the bill would ultimately hurt authors and artists, burdening media companies with its incalculable compensatory regulations and endangering thousands of jobs in Germany’s film and media industries.

The Justice Ministry, however, has said the reforms seek to improve the poor economic standing of freelancers, who it says are unduly exploited. Lawmakers have signaled a willingness to remove the more controversial aspects from the bill.

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