VdFS manages fiduciary and collectively the copyrights and neighbouring rights of the professional groups direction, camera, film editing, stage design, costume design and acting.
VdFS distributes royalties, which result from secondary exploitation rights as well as legal remuneration and participation claims, to filmmakers, actors and their legal successors (heirs). This is income such as, for example, cable fees, private reproduction remuneration, remuneration for public reproduction of films in schools and universities, and the public lending rights.
VdFS uses reciprocal agreements with numerous foreign affiliated companies to manage the rights and claims of its members (beneficiaries) abroad.
VdFS dedicates a portion of its income to social and cultural institutions (SKE) on the basis of legal regulations and voluntary deductions. With these funds, the society supports its members in social emergencies and in the area of training and further education. In addition to that, VdFS supports film festivals and film-related projects and contributes financially to the professional associations of filmmakers.
VdFS advises its members on issues of (film) copyright. It supports the interests of filmmakers in relation to amendments of copyright and collecting society laws and represents these on a national, European and international level.
VdFS is audited and controlled by its Supervisory Board, an independent auditor, the Federation of Cooperatives and the Supervisory Authority of Collecting Societies.
Board of Directors
Carl Achleitner (Acting)
Fabian Eder (Camera, Chairman)
Paul Harather (Direction)
Michael Kreihsl (Direction)
Ingrid Leibezeder (Costume Design)
Daniela Padalewski-Gerber (Film Editing)
Florian Reichmann (Stage Design, Vice Chairman)
Norbert Arnsteiner (Camera, Vice Chairman)
Thomas Oláh (Costume Design)
Sonja Lesowsky-List (Film Editing)
Thomas Roth (Direction)
Erwin Steinhauer (Acting, Chairman)
Thomas Vögel (Stage Design)
Representatives of Beneficiary
Jacob Groll (Direction)
Gerald Frey (Camera)
Michael Hudecek (Film Editing)
Enid Löser (Stage Design)
Erika Navas (Costume Design)
Liliana Nelska (Acting)
Gudrun Glatz, BA
Mag. Gisela Eichtinger
© Rainer Mirau Photography
Here, all documents that must be published pursuant to Section 44 of the Collecting Societies Act 2016, can be found.
The license to operate is the legal basis for the collection activities of VdFS.
The statutes of VdFS regulates the organisation and structure of VdFS (supplemented by the internal regulations of the Board of Directors and Supervisory Board).
The rules for ordinary membership contain those provisions according to which a beneficiary can become a cooperative member of VdFS.
The conclusion of the Membership Contract results in the membership of VdFS. In this contract, various rights and claims are granted to VdFS for the purpose of the fiduciary and collective management.
The list of general agreements contracts contains an overview of the contracts concluded by VdFS with user organisations.
The list of regulations contains an overview of the regulations concluded by VdFS with user organisations.
The list of contracts with the Federal Government contains an overview of the General Agreements concluded by VdFS with the Federal Government.
VdFS has currently not published any independent rates and has not concluded any contracts with the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation).
The "general principles of distribution" determine the framework for the distribution rules and the guidelines for institutions serving social and cultural purposes (“SKE-guidelines”).
The conditions of distribution contain the fixed rules according to which VdFS distributes royalties to its members.
The SKE guidelines contain the fixed rules according to which VdFS assigns contributions from social and cultural institutions.
The "general principles for the use of non-distributable funds" contain the framework for the use of non-distributable royalties.
The "general principles of administrative costs" determine the framework for the deduction of administrative expenses
The "general principles for other deductions (as administrative costs) including deductions for the SKE" contain the rules for other deductions than administration costs such as SKE-deductions and reserves.
The list of reciprocal agreements contains an overview of the reciprocal agreements concluded by VdFS with foreign affiliated companies.
The "opportunities for complaints and alternative dispute resolution" illustrate contact information and legal procedures in case of complaints or disputes.
According to the Austrian Copyright Collecting Societies Act (VerwGesG 2016), which entered into force on 1st of June 2016, collecting societies are required to provide annual transparency reports.
The history of VdFS
VdFS was founded in 1992.
The real starting point, however, was the meeting of the Austrian Association of Cinematographers in 1984, which brought filmmakers’ copyrights and exploitation rights in Austria to the forefront for the first time. This was the first time that Austrian filmmakers became aware that, for many years, royalties from cable television and private reproduction remuneration was collected and distributed by the other collecting societies, such as AKM (Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers), Literar-Mechana, VAM (Collecting Society for Audiovisual Media) and VGR (Collecting Society of Broadcasters). With the support of BILD-KUNST, the German collecting society that was already in existence at that time, but especially the well-known German cinematographer Jost Vacano (“Das Boot”), the AAC commenced an awareness campaign that lasted for many years, with the aim to establish a collecting society for filmmakers also in Austria. In cooperation with the professional associations of film set designers and master film editors, this idea finally became the umbrella organisation of Austrian filmmakers, and the establishment of a collecting society was raised as an urgent request with politicians by all occupational groups involved in cinematographic works.
A copyright congress in Salzburg in 1991 where every institution and all associations were represented, finally accelerated progress.
In the spirit of the congress and with an increased sense of self-awareness, VdFS (Verwertungsgesellschaft der Filmschaffenden - Collecting Society of Audiovisual Authors and Actors with limited liability) was founded by a handful of filmmakers, legal and tax experts, in the legal form of a limited liability cooperative. Amongst them was also the first managing director of VdFS, Univ. Prof. Dr. Walter Dillenz. The goal was to allow filmmakers to participate in this income, the same as musicians, authors, visual artists, producers and broadcasting institutions.
From 1993 until 1996, the activities of VdFS were mainly limited to the collection and distribution of royalties, which had been forwarded on from collecting societies abroad. The amendment to the Copyright Act in 1996 was the turning point, allowing filmmakers to participate in the above mentioned profits for the first time. In addition, the rights of film actors had to be asserted little by little. From onwards, 1997, VdFS was finally able to show its own domestic profits.
This income was increased significantly over the course of the next decades, whereby VdFS first had to succeed in obtaining reasonable share in the profits of the other collecting societies. For example, the shares of VdFS in the profits of VAM (cable fees and private reproduction remuneration) could initially be contractually determined. After VAM terminated this agreement, the decision on how the profits should be divided between VdFS and VAM was taken by the Copyright Senate. Then in 2006, VdFS came to an agreement with VGR in a court settlement on an appropriate share of its revenues, which caused a further increase in the profits of VdFS. This positive development has, however, not yet come to its conclusion. Filmmakers were not yet able to demand reasonable compensation for the use of their works and performances in all areas of the industry.
VdFS enjoyed significant success in 2012, when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared, in the context of a test case initiated by VdFS, that the “cessio legis” of the Austrian film copyright was illegal under EU law. From the Austrian filmmakers’ point of view, this decision was to be regarded as a milestone, as, in accordance with the previous jurisprudence and the prevailing teachings, all rights of use belonging to the filmmakers were by law assigned to the producers.
The highest European court put a stop to this expropriation by the Austrian legislature, which went back to the original version of the Copyright Act of 1936. Since 2012, the “cessio legis” is to be interpreted as “rebuttable presumption” in favour of the film producer. The legal situation is now comparable to that of all other European countries. This means that, for the sake of legal certainty, it is assumed that the exploitation rights were granted to the producers, however, the filmmakers and the producers can contractually agree something different at anytime.
With the ability to conclude these contracts, filmmakers are now no longer relegated to a position of “second class creator”. In theory, at least, profits going to the producers can be shared, and individual rights can also be contractually reserved.
But it is obvious that this does not automatically mean higher incomes for filmmakers. This is because, in practice, producers and broadcasters enter into agreements with filmmakers and actors, granting all rights in exchange for a one-time payment (“buy-outs”).
In these cases, VdFS can, however, protect its members by asserting the rights and claims of the beneficiaries in their own name, at least in the area of “second and third exploitation” of their works and performances in their name and interests.
By the elimination of “cessio legis” which was again confirmed by the Austrian Supreme Court of Justice (OGH) in 2014, in any event, a fundamental change in the legal position has occurred. Since then, filmmakers and actors are to be treated as equal to all other creators and intellectual property rights holders. This means that filmmakers are no longer “subtenants” of film producers and broadcasters, instead they can independently assert their rights and claims (or represented by VdFS) with the users of their works.
However, this new legal position is still not yet reflected in Austrian Copyright Law. This is because the legislature has unfortunately neglected to introduce modern and fair film copyright practices within the framework of the amendments to the Copyright Act in 2013 and 2014. VdFS is working to put this into effect as quickly as possible and without compromises at the expense of the filmmakers.
This basic change in the legal position should also have a positive effect in the future on VdFS license to operate, which provides the legal framework and basis for the collection activities of VdFS. Taking a page from other affiliated organisations abroad, VdFS has been working since its inception to expand its license to operate in the interests of its beneficiaries.
From 1993 to 2014, VdFS brought in around 65 million Euros in foreign and domestic revenues for its beneficiaries and distributed around 6 million Euros in funds for social and cultural purposes.