Since 2008 famous German cameraman Jost Vacano has been seeking fair remuneration for his input into the making of World War II submarine drama "Das Boot" (trailer here) from the filmmaking company Bavaria Film and its related companies (see previous IPKat post here relating to the first instance claim). Mr Vacano’s work was nominated for an Academy Award and included the development of new innovative filming techniques in respect of lighting and camera equipment.
By way of a so-called action by stages (Stufenklage), where issues arising at various stages of action are tried separately, Mr Vacano is demanding that his contracts with Bavaria of 1980 and 1981 be adjusted in light of the global success of the film by way of a retroactive share of the revenue, inter alia, for the DVD and video sale exploitation. While he was recognised as joint author of Das Boot and had conceded limited exploitation rights to Bavaria Film, he argued that the agreed lump-sum remuneration for that concession was severely disproportionate to the revenue derived from the commercial exploits by Bavaria Film. He felt that he was therefore owed additional compensation from Bavaria based on §32a of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) which provides for a so-called “fairness compensation” in cases where there is a striking disproportion between the fee paid and the success of the work or creation. By way of a claim to information Vacano sought access to the respective user licensing and related agreements which would then enable him to calculate the exact amount of compensation. This is the third high profile German case in recent times relating to “fairness compensation” (see previous reports here and here), albeit decided by lower instance courts.
After decisions by the Regional Court of Munich I and the court of appeal, the Higher Regional Court of Munich, the Bundesgerichtshof had to assess whether Mr Vacano had the right of action concerning a claim to information (somewhat akin to disclosure) as co-author of the work, the defendant’s duty to provide this information and the extent of such a claim of information.