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Specialist Guide to the
Global Leaders in Media Law Practice
Germany’s landmark social media law imposes fines of up to EUR 500,000 on social media platforms for hate speech, fake news and illegal material that is not removed from platforms within 24 hours.
The law, known locally as NetzDG, came into force in January 2018 after being approved by Angela Merkel's cabinet in April last year.
The law was partly in response to concerns that misinformation campaigns could influence the parliamentary elections, after reports that misleading articles affected the outcome of the US election won by Donald Trump.
Social media companies are legally required to establish a “legal protection unit” based in Germany with clear channels for registering complaints. Networks would also be required to publish the number of complaints received and to hire legally qualified ombudsmen to carry out deletions of defamatory, false or offensive content.
In an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, Parliamentary Chief of the Social Democrat party, Thomas Oppermann, said: “If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to EUR 500,000.”
He added: “Facebook has not used the opportunity to effectively regulate the issue of complaint management itself.”
Mr Oppermann explained the proposals seek to “legally oblige market-leading platforms such as Facebook to set up a legal protection centre that is accessible 365 days a year in Germany”.
Government officials, including Justice Minister Heiko Maas, have warned Facebook and other social media companies to respect laws against defamation in Germany, which are stricter than in the United States.
German politicians have made it clear that defamation and illegal hate speech are not covered under freedom of speech. Other developments include data protection regulation which lawyers describe as “a major development driver”.
In other news, Germany’s Data Protection Act passed the final stages of the legislative process in July 2017, almost one year before the EU’s GDPR becomes effective.
’s leading position is unwavering. The firm is highly reputed and widely praised by clients and competitors for its history of excellence and media sector specialisation. One competitor noted: “It is number one in Germany. Lausen has reached a position where I look at the people and quality of work and see where I would like to be in five or ten years.” Working with Martin Schippan and the wider team, founding partner Matthias Lausen acts for clients from the press and publishing, broadcasting, film and music sectors.
Managed by Ulrich Michel and , the media and intellectual property department at Noerr routinely handles complex licensing and distribution matters on behalf of radio and television broadcasters. Lawyers advise on sports law and related financing, the right to freedom of expression, games development and data protection. The firm is widely known for its multiple focus areas and quality of advice across segments, which include digital media, music, film and advertising.
SKW Schwarz is widely recognised for its entertainment law specialisation and recognised by competitors for its popularity among film industry clients. The team regularly advises German film and television production companies on distribution and license agreements. With exceptional experience in financing and funding issues, managing partner Mathias Schwarz leads the practice in its work on structuring private equity investments for the financing of international films. Other focus areas include games, music, publishing and advertising.
Beiten Burkhardt’s media specialisation includes music, entertainment and publishing. Well versed in radio, film and multimedia law, the team regularly advises on the licensing of radio and television networks, freedom of speech and press merger control. The team assists sports sector clients on the outsourcing of professional club division, antitrust law advice on the monopolistic position of federations and financing of international championships.
Bird & Bird’s presence in Germany spans more than a decade with offices in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. The firm has long-standing expertise in complex high profile cases across multiple media segments with focus areas ranging from media regulation and press law to corporate transactions and contractual law. Based in Munich, Joseph Fesenmair co-manages the firm’s international sports group and specialises in media, copyright and unfair competition.
Boehmert & Boehmert represents public figures, newspaper and magazine publishing companies in all aspects of press or personal rights law. Lawyers advise on negotiations for an out of court settlement, draft and negotiate copyright licensing contracts and assist with matters connected with data protection and unfair competition. Competitors highlight Martin Schaefer and Claudia Rossbach for their copyright law expertise and describe Andreas Lichtenhahn as “an outstanding music copyright lawyer whose knowledge of the industry is second to none.“
Media work at K&L Gates frequently involves the areas of music copyright. Lawyers also have extensive experience advising on cable distribution, antitrust and licensing agreements. Managed by Martin von Albrecht, the practice is also noted for its advice on film production and financing, television, gaming and sports. Peers highlight the firm for its increased activity and market visibility.
McDermott Will & Emery is recognised for its sports law advice and broader media focus, which comes under the firm’s TMT practice. The firm frequently advises on television and internet-related copyright and contract law. In representative work, the team advised Yep! TV Betriebs on its cooperation agreement with ProSiebenSat.1 TV for the delivery of a daily children’s programme and purchase contracts for the corresponding programmes. Joint department leaders Wolfgang von Frentz and Ralf Weisser also advise on media concentration, on content distribution and disputes.
With four decades of experience, Berlin-based Raue advises media companies on all aspects of media law. Led by Jan Hegemann, the media department handles dispute resolution and litigation connected with press and publishing law, copyright and unfair competition. In highlighted work, the firm acted for collecting society VG Media in the enforcement of ancillary copyright law for press publishers. The team also advises on freedom of speech, media policy and transactional work.
Unverzagt von Have is known for its focus on new media, film and television and copyright. The firm’s areas of activity are broad and include privacy, data protection unfair competition. Based in Hamburg, founding partner Alexander Unverzagt specialises in press and communication law. The firm operates out of Berlin and Cologne with media, entertainment and advertising law specialists based in each location.
Managed by Frankfurt-based Jens-Marwin Koch, the TMT division at Winheller Attorneys at Law is among Germany’s recognised firms for media on account of the team’s proficiency and expertise. According to one client “The international legal expertise of Winheller was the decisive factor for choosing the law firm. For our new cross-channel and cloud-based social business tool, Winheller also helped to manage distribution and license agreements.” The firm’s core practice areas include film and television production, computer games, music production and distribution and theatre.
Multiple media segments, the entertainment industry and the digital transformation collectively form the focus of FREY. Leading the practice, founding partner Dieter Frey with German and European background education is widely recognized for advice in the media and sports sector. FREY’s clients range from online media services, broadcasting companies and a leading German advertising company to production companies, publishers and artists. Partner Matthias Rudolph is highly reputed for in depth knowledge of copyright law and collecting societies' regulation and handling as well as press law, freedom of speech, and personal rights law. Besides this, FREY is deeply experienced with media regulation and media concentration and they are appointed for all questions regarding the production and distribution (broadcast, online, cable-retransmission) of content (film, video, music, sports media productions), for example licensing of rights, end user relationships (including data protection law) and marketing (influencer marketing, content marketing, social media, celebrity endorsements, testimonials).
Hertin & Partner’s focus is on copyright, publishing and entertainment law. With decades of experience, Paul W. Hertin advises on competition law, personal rights and handles disputes. Key practitioners include Sandra Wagner who assists with contractual matters, court settlements and advises on internet law.
The IP, media and technology practice at Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek provides transactional, contractual and regulatory advice to gaming and entertainment clients. The firm has notable experience advising broadcasters, with one client noting: “We are a pay-television platform operator and our company relies on Heuking’s profound expertise in media, copyright, contract, company and antitrust law. We always appreciated Heuking’s professional legal advice, excellent work results and high flexibility on resources and timing.” Head of department “Michael Schmittmann is unfailingly cheerful, very patient and always full of good professional advice,” explained one client, adding: “I would recommend the firm and Mr Schmittmann without hesitation.”
Media law specialist Nesselhauf advises on publishing law, music, copyright, film and sports. Founding partner Michael Nesselhauf leads the firm in its work with film directions, producers, and artists on contract issues, exploitation and enforcement of copyright. The team advises on pre and post publication, privacy and defamation.
Gaming specialist Osborne Clarke is among Germany’s leading firms for digital media and IT law. Head of division Konstantin Ewald is widely reputed for his in-depth knowledge of related laws and extensive involvement in complex cross-border cases. In related work the team advised Electronic Arts on computer games and related consumer protection law, data protection and IP law.
Established in 2005 by Christian Schertz and Simon Bergmann, boutique firm Schertz Bergmann is recognised or its sector commitment. Lawyers advise on all media matters with work ranging from advice on sports, copyright and publishing. The firms work includes representation of public figures such as artists and politicians and extensive contract drafting and negotiation on behalf of entertainment advertising clients.
A composition of three highly experienced lawyers, Bezzenberger focusses on press and media law, competition and copyright. Julia Bezzenberger, Eva Frauenschuh and Yvonne Kleinke are equally praised by competitors for their adeptness, in-depth knowledge and sector dedication. Clients include well known individuals and companies from the sports and entertainment industries.
Core areas of focus at Gleiss Lutz include music, social media and virtual entertainment. The team has extensive experience advising on regulatory issues concerning television, media policy, access to distribution channels and cable regulation. Düsseldorf-based Martin Hitzer and Berlin-based Stefan Weidert lead the team which also advises on copyright, antitrust, corporate law and M&A transactions.
Kanzlei Prof. Schweizer is highlighted by clients for “excellent work in the fields of media and competitive law in media and digital”. The firm is widely respected by competitors who note the firm’s long-standing presence and sector specialisation. Work includes advice on start-up ventures, acquisitions and freedom of speech. One client notes, “The technical expertise was sufficiently deep, and in many cases very deep and specialised, especially concerning competition regulations, copyright law and contracts for M&A.“
Preu Bohlig & Partner is widely praised by clients who note “Other than the typical situation of lawyers playing your friend and then sending huge bills, Preu Bohlig only takes your case if you are on the right
side of the case.” The media practice is focussed on press and entertainment law. The team regularly advises on defamation, copyright and competition law. Other areas of focus include film, television, theatre and advertising.
Scherenberg Legal & Licensing focusses on advice in the field of media law and intellectual
property with a focus on licensing and litigation. This includes matters of reputation
management, crisis communication and the representation of both talent and corporate
entities in cases of press and
privacy law and also in media law agreements, such as merchandising, testimonial endorsements, publicity, advertising and trademark licensing. Oliver Scherenberg heads the practice group, joined by Michael-Matthias Nordhardt, who also has practical experience as a journalist working for a public broadcasting station. Speaking about the firm’s managing partner, one client said: “Dr Scherenberg and his team are deeply dedicated to the matters presented to them and they bring themselves up to speed even in complex matters in record time.” On the client side, Scherenberg Legal & Licensing represents, among others, the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) Germany, the leading European manufacturer and retailer of mobile payment systems Ingenico, the biggest German textile retailer KiK, several enterprises in the energy sector and numerous individuals. Clients praise the firm’s deep knowledge of the industry and creativity in getting the best results.
Straßer Ventroni Deubzer Freytag & Jäger has broad sector focus that includes entertainment, film, internet, music and advertising. The firm is also appointed by press and publishing, games and sports organisations and advises on licensing agreements for national and international media groups.
Frömming + Partner is notably focussed on defence work. Based in Hamburg the firm acts for business and individuals on press law with an emphasis on privacy and reputation. Managed by founders Jens Frömming, the team also advises film and television organisations on production contacts, licensing and copyright. Other areas of focus include music and print publishing.
Klinkert’s media focus broadly incorporates copyright, entertainment and sports. The firm handles multijurisdictional disputes nationally and abroad, representing clients in cases before the copyright arbitration board. Lawyers advise online music companies and leading mobile content distributors. Key practitioner Johannes Zindel advises publishers in rights acquisitions and has negotiated on behalf of film producers with film fund companies.
Kornmeier & Partner specialises in content-related areas of law with an industry focus on film, broadcast, publishing, music and gaming. The firm, managed by is highlighted as an important component of the legal market with notable expertise in multiple segments of media law.
Ranking and editorials
Bird & Bird
Boehmert & Boehmert
Brehm & v. Moers
Damm & Mann
Redeker Sellner Dahs
Unverzagt von Have
Winheller Attorneys at Law
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Hertin & Partner
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek
Prinz, Neidhardt, Engelschall
SSB Söder Schwarz Berlinger
Kanzlei Prof. Schweizer
Preu Bohlig & Partner
Scherenberg Legal & Licensing
Scheuermann Westerhoff Strittmatter
Straßer Ventroni Deubzer Freytag & Jäger
White & Case
Frömming + Partner
Kornmeier & Partner
Morrison & Foerster
Müller-Riemenschneider, Specht, Langenkamp
Oppenhoff & Partner
Romatka & Collegen
RANKING AND EDITORIALS