General Questions

What is the basis of copyright remuneration on devices and storage media?

At the national level, the legal basis for the obligation to pay remuneration is provided by §§ 54 et seq. UrhG. On the European level, the DIRECTIVE 2001/29/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of May 22, 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, there Art. 5 is authoritative.

For further information on the legal background of the private copying remuneration, please refer to the section “Legal Background”.

Why is there a remuneration for private copying at all?

The purpose of the so-called "private copying remuneration" is to compensate the rights holders for the fact that the legislator permits, among other things, individual reproductions of a work by a natural person for private use (under the conditions specified in §53 (1) UrhG) and for use in science and education to the extent specified in the regulations (under §§60a to 60f UrhG)

Further information on the legal background of the private copying remuneration can be found in the “Legal Basis” section, as well as in the "Private Copies" section

Why is the ZPÜ authorized to handle the payment of remuneration?

Pursuant to § 54 (1) UrhG, entitled to remuneration are both authors and the holder of ancillary copyrights such as performing artists and event organizers (§§ion 83 UrhG), producers of sound carriers (§ 85 (4) UrhG) and film producers (Section 94 (4) UrhG). The claims under §§ 54 et seq. UrhG cannot, however, be asserted by individual authors or holders of ancillary copyrights themselves, but only by a collecting society (§ 54h (1) UrhG).

For this reason, the authors and holders of ancillary copyrights have transferred their claims to the German collecting societies, which are responsible for this according to their statutes, by concluding rights agreements.

All German collecting societies to which claims have been assigned for administration pursuant to §§ 54 et seq. UrhG are represented by ZPÜ. For this purpose, the nine collecting societies GEMA, GVL, VG Wort, VG Bild-Kunst, GWFF, VFF, VGF, GÜFA and TWF have transferred their claims for reproductions of audio works and audiovisual works for private and other own use within the meaning of §§ 53 (1) - (2) and §§ 60a to 60f UrhG, currently governed by §§ 54, 54a, 54b, 54e and54f UrhG, to ZPÜ for assertion against the companies liable to pay remunerations.

The ZPÜ is a jointly designated receiving agency pursuant to § 54h (3) UrhG.

Further information on the legal background of the private copying remuneration can be found in the “Legal Background” section. An overview of the collecting societies represented by ZPÜ can be found in the section "Partners of ZPÜ".

How is the remuneration for private copying handled in practice

Pursuant to § 35 VGG, collecting societies are obliged, within the limits of reasonableness, to conclude an inclusive contract with a user association on reasonable terms. ZPÜ has implemented this by concluding numerous inclusive agreements across all products in recent years with, among others, the “Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e.V.” (Bitkom), the „Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e.V.“ (ZVEI), the „Verband zur Rücknahme und Verwertung von Elektro- und Elektronikaltgeräte e.V.“ (VERE) and the „Informationskreis Aufnahmemedien“ (IM).

The remuneration rates agreed upon in these inclusive contracts shall be deemed to be tariffs (§ 38 VGG).

The debtors of the private copying remuneration are manufacturers, importers and dealers of devices and storage media whose type is used alone or in conjunction with other devices, storage media or accessories to make reproductions for private and other personal use pursuant to § 53 (1) - (3) 2 and §§ 60a to 60f UrhG. On the basis of the inclusive contracts concluded or - if they are not party to an inclusive agreement - on the basis of §§ 54 et seq. of the Copyright Act, they are obliged to provide reports and information and to pay remuneration in the amount stipulated in the inclusive contracts or in the tariffs.

These remunerations, which are realized by ZPÜ pursuant to §§ 54 et seq. (UrhG), are - after deduction of administrative costs - distributed to the nine collecting societies participating in ZPÜ on the basis of distribution plans (cf. § 5 of the ZPÜ Articles of Association).

What is a private copy in the first place that causes an obligation to pay and who it obliged to pay?

"Private copies" are copies of works or parts of works protected by copyright from the fields of music, film, text or images that are made for private purposes or for other personal use. For example, if I pass on music that I have purchased myself to friends or relatives, this results in private copies.

These reproductions fall under the so-called "private copying barrier", i.e. they are permitted - as an exception to the otherwise applicable exclusive right of authors and ancillary copyright holders to prohibit the reproduction of their works or to permit it only against payment of a license fee. The Copyright Act contains provisions on this in § 53 UrhG and in §§ 60a et seq. UrhG.

In return for these permitted copies, the legislator provides for a compensation payment for the rights holder. This is regulated in §§ 54 ff. UrhG and obliges the importers, manufacturers and dealers of such devices and storage media with which private copies can be made or on which such copies can be stored to pay the rights holders an appropriate remuneration. The remuneration is structured as a lump sum and is due for each device or storage medium concerned that is placed on the market in Germany. Products subject to remuneration include, for example, notebooks, PCs, smartphones, tablets, external HDDs and set-top boxes for recording TV content, to name just a few. Since these statutory remuneration claims can only be asserted by a collecting society and the German collecting societies concerned have granted their information and remuneration claims arising from private copying to ZPÜ for administration, the billing relationship exists directly between ZPÜ and the importers or manufacturers.

What dimensions of remuneration are we talking about here? What are the rates of remuneration?

For a privately purchased mobile phone - depending on whether the importer or manufacturer is a member of a so-called inclusive agreement that allows for discounting - remuneration rates of €5 or €6.25 currently apply, for a tablet €7 or €8.75. Measured by how many files are continuously copied with an average smartphone or tablet, or to what extent these files can be stored on the devices thanks to generous storage space, and taking into account the purchase price of these devices, the amount of remuneration per product is thus low. All tariffs for the various devices and storage media can be found in the "Products & Tariffs" section.

How are the revenues redistributed to authors?

Since the reform of copyright law in 2008, ZPÜ's distribution plans to the nine collecting societies have been based primarily on empirical studies to determine the intensity of usage of the products used to make or store copies. For this reason, the ZPÜ has commissioned a total of 13 extensive empirical distribution studies from renowned market research institutes (including GfK and TNS) since 2008. In the most recent survey in 2018, an online survey in the GfK Consumer Panel, more than 16,000 people took part and answered questions on the usage of a total of 19 products for copying purposes. The more detailed approach to arrive at the distribution keys can be found in the "Distribution" section.

The distribution plans of the ZPÜ do not yet represent the final distribution stage to the rightholders, but end with the allocation of a share of the revenues to the individual collecting societies. Each collecting society, in turn, distributes the ZPÜ revenues allocated to it to its rightholders according to the rules of its own distribution plans.

What are the advantages of this remuneration system for all parties involved, especially in the digital age? Why is flat-rate remuneration chosen rather than individually determined usage-based remuneration?

The system of private copying remuneration shows its great advantage, especially in times of discussions about the individual's freedom of use and users' data protection rights. Because it is designed as a flat-rate payment, the type, content, and intensity of the consumer's use does not have to be "tracked.” Rather, the user can actually do this "privately" in a protected space and at the same time is not bothered with the modalities of billing. Importers and manufacturers who are at the beginning of the distribution chain and make duplication by the user possible in the first place due to the sale of the products can include the remuneration directly in the sales price of the products. Thus, not only consumers but also a large part of the trade are exempted from the processing of the remuneration obligation.

The current remuneration model is thus the best compromise between anonymity and usage-based remuneration. By referring to products that are clearly suitable for the reproduction of protected works, the remuneration is user-based and does not hit the entire population across the board - as the broadcasting fee does, for example. In addition, a system based on precise recording of the extent to which a user makes private copies would give rise to considerable data protection issues.

How can I "register" with ZPÜ?

If you are an importer, manufacturer or dealer of devices or storage media that can be used to make private copies, please provide us with the relevant information by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. using the forms available on our website. You will then be assigned a customer number with us.

Where did you get my data?

The ZPÜ continuously obtains knowledge of other companies that place products subject to remuneration on the market, for example, through incoming dealer information and market research.

Products & Tariffs

Which products are subject to remuneration?

The obligation to pay remuneration for products (devices or storage media) results from the statutory regulation. It exists if a device or storage medium, according to its type, is used alone or in conjunction with other devices or storage media or accessories to make copies pursuant to § 53 (1) or (2) or §§ 60a - 60f UrhG (in particular to make so-called "private copies").

If the above-named legal criteria are fulfilled, the obligation to pay remuneration as such exists irrespective of the existence of a tariff. If a product does not meet the legal criteria, it is not subject to remuneration.

All information on products for which tariffs and inclusive contracts currently exist can be found in the "Products & Tariffs" section

Are used products also subject to remuneration?

Used devices are also subject to remuneration, at least to the extent that no remuneration has yet been paid for it as part of its initial sale.

In 2019, the ZPÜ concluded an agreement on the handling of used devices with the largest suppliers of used devices in Germany at that time, which takes into account the legal and factual uncertainties and the realities of the used devices market. The provisions contained in the agreement are based on the statutory obligations to provide information and pay remuneration pursuant to §§ 54 et seq. UrhG as well as the tariff structure by the collecting societies, but contain modifications in order to reflect the special features of the used devices market. The modalities found in this respect also apply to companies with which no agreement has (yet) been reached.

Whether and to what extent an obligation to pay remuneration exists depends on the specific purchase and sales channel. In particular, there are some constellations of cases in which the obligation to pay remuneration does not apply at all. The essence of the used devices system is therefore to avoid double remuneration.

If you place used devices on the market in Germany, please contact us directly (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), providing information on your sales model and the products and time periods concerned.

How high are the remuneration rates?

All remuneration rates can be found in the "Products & Tariffs" section on the respective product pages.

How is the amount of remuneration determined?

Pursuant to § 54 (1) UrhG, rights holders are entitled to reasonable remuneration. The amount of remuneration is determined by the extent to which the devices and storage media are typically used for copies that are subject to remuneration. In practice, the extent of usage is determinedby empirical studies. The remuneration level also takes into account the fact, that the remuneration must be commercially reasonable in relation to the price level of the device or storage medium. The level of remuneration results in particular from the tariffs established by the collecting societies, which are currently all based on inclusive contracts concluded with associations of importers and manufacturers.

Do special regulations apply to commercially used products?

The case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Case C-467/08 (ECJ-Padawan), as well as the application of this case law by the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) and the Munich Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht München), provides, with regard to the remuneration claim, that there may be no indiscriminate application of the private copying remuneration to devices and storage media that are acquired by persons other than natural persons for purposes clearly different from the making of private copies. At the same time, in particular according to the case law of the Federal Court of Justice, the mere fact that relevant products are provided to a commercial buyer such as a public authority or a company, a freelancer or a tradesman does not preclude their use for private purposes according to general life experience. On the contrary, according to the ordinary course of events, it cannot be ruled out that such devices may also be used in the work environment to make private copies.

This presumption can only be refuted by proving that such use appears to be excluded according to the normal course of events. The basis for this is § 54 (2) UrhG. According to this, the obligation to pay remuneration does not apply if it can be expected under the circumstances that devices or storage media will not be used for copying.

For those devices and storage media that are to be exempted from the remuneration obligation, the manufacturers and importers must prove that they are clearly reserved for uses other than the making of private copies and that, at most, such copies have actually been made to a small extent with the aid of these devices and storage media and that they will be made to a small extent in the normal course of events.

In order to make this obligation to provide evidence as practicable as possible in the interest of the companies required to provide evidence, and at the same time to ensure that the rights holders receive an appropriate level of remuneration, a reduced business remuneration in combination with a simplification of evidence was created in consensus with associations of manufacturers and importers for suitable products. For example, for PCs, tablets and mobile phones, the application of the business remuneration is based on the percentage of a brand or vendor that has been identified as "business shares" by the market research institute IDC. In contrast to a complete waiver of the remuneration in the event of successful strict proof, this takes into account the fact that so-called business products are also used to a considerable extent for private and other relevant reproductions - albeit to a lesser extent than privately purchased products.

The ZPÜ has implemented the case law regarding the commercial use of devices and storage media in inclusive contracts and tariffs based on them. Within the framework of the "business regulations", these provide that for products that are demonstrably supplied by the manufacturer or importer by way of direct distribution or by way of a project transaction to a commercial end user or a public authority, no remuneration or a reduced remuneration is due upon presentation of appropriate evidence.

The required evidence as well as the respective remuneration rates can be found in the inclusive contracts or tariffs for the respective devices or storage media. Product-specific information can be found in the “Products and Tariffs” section, all contracts and tariffs can also be found in the Download Center.

Obligations of Manufacturers, Importers & Traders

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Information & Reports

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Inclusive Contracts

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