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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Germany > Media > Entertainment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Media: Entertainment
  2. Digital content
  3. Gaming
  4. Copyright disputes
  5. Leading individuals
  6. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Winfried Bullinger - CMS
    • Martin Diesbach - SKW Schwarz Rechtsanwälte
    • Johannes Kreile - Noerr
    • Christoph Wagner - Morrison & Foerster LLP

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Christiane Stützle - Morrison & Foerster LLP
    • Sandra Wagner - Hertin & Partner

Who Represents Who

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CMS no doubt belongs to the league of firms most present in advising on the digital transformation of the economy and handles the entire spectrum of copyright, unfair competition, licensing and regulatory matters at a cross-border level for media clients, on the one hand, while on the other hand also assisting companies outside of the entertainment sector with media law issues. While advice on digital business models is a clear focus of the practice led by Sebastian Cording, in 2017 the team also saw a rise in disputes related to digital topics: It represented the Association of German Funeral Homes in proceedings at the Federal Court of Justice regarding the information duties of operators of online price comparison portals; assisted Netlantic in landmark proceedings on virtual video recorders; and successfully represented Eyeo in eight parallel landmark proceedings against Handelsblatt and ProSiebenSat1.Digital, among others, regarding the admissibility of ad blockers. Other clients include the media company MPLC Deutschland concerning performing and demonstration rights; Joker Productions regarding film and licence law matters; and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry on the copyright assessment of Streamripper online services. Due to Pietro Graf Fringuelli’s expertise the firm also has an outstanding reputation in the sports sector; here one media law client among others is the World ESports Association.

Noerr conveys ‘the impression that its lawyers have the best knowledge in their areas of expertise’ and therefore provides media law ‘advice at the highest level’. The subject of digitisation featured prominently in most highlight matters of 2017, but the renowned team also continued to focus on cross-border film financings, production advice, gaming law, copyright disputes and broadcasting law as traditionally important pillars of the practice. In a recent highlight the well known Johannes Kreile issued an opinion on the legal ownership of cable retransmission rights in Germany and abroad for collecting society AGICOA Urheberrechtsschutz. Ulrich Michel, who leads the practice together with Tobias Dolde, assisted a German and an international film production company with various German film productions and also advised a private company within the framework of a cooperation regarding the development of virtual reality productions. Christian Alexander Mayer advised a German media company on various gambling services and represented a German TV channel in summary proceedings regarding the removal of apps from the app store due to alleged unlawful advertisement about sports betting. The team also demonstrated transactional expertise in its advice to A&E Television Networks concerning the acquisition of 50% of company shares in The History Channel Germany from NBC Universal. Besides his activity in media transactions and film financings Hans Radau is also particularly known for his tax expertise.

As ‘top advisors on the German marketSKW Schwarz Rechtsanwälte’s ‘media law experts’ have ‘profound expertise in all media-related matters’, ‘always keep clients up to date about industry developments’ and provide ‘precise, practical and viable legal advice’. The practice led by the renowned Martin Diesbach encompasses the entire spectrum of traditional and digital content financing, production and distribution, and handles media transactions and the representation in contentious media matters. It assisted DZ Bank with the financing of an international co-production produced by Bavaria and Sky, advised a German production company on the sale of the film adaptation rights of an internationally successful German film and handled the financing and contract agreement negotiations for a Berlin-based film production company for the second German language Netflix series. The team also demonstrated deep digital understanding in its advice to Titan VR UG in connection with the establishment of a virtual reality company. In the area of copyright disputes it leads multiple bestseller proceedings for Degeto Film, the state broadcasting corporations forming the ARD network, ProSiebenSat.1 Medien and Bavaria Film, among others, and negotiates joint remuneration regulations with Bundesverband Kamera, the German Society of Cinematographers, for RTL Television. Most recently the new rules on the law of copyright also ensured an increased work load: A key client is Twentieth Century Fox regarding changes to the dubbing studio due to the copyright reform. The portfolio furthermore includes SEGA Europe concerning gaming matters, Netflix and Red Bull Media House. Andreas Peschel-Mehner is considered ‘a highly competent lawyer with a high presence in local and international media hubs’ and Andreas Bareiss was promoted to partner.

Brehm & v. Moers’ clients enjoy the ‘good, reliable cooperation in all areas of international film production’ and can additionally count on the ‘quick response times and the good price-performance ratio’ of the eight-partner team. Advice on film financing and production processes in the traditional and digital segments remains the main driver of the renowned practice, however, digital topics are increasingly coming to the fore, such as advising on the launch of the video-on-demand (VoD) services Pantaflix. Within the context of corporate advice to media companies Guido Hettinger and Kai Bodensiek particularly strengthen the firm’s standing in the start-up scene, which they advise on financing rounds and contractual matters. Expertise also lies in gaming, music and art law. Dirk Poppendieck ‘always expresses himself comprehensively with the necessary expert knowledge’; Wolfgang Brehm and Stefan v. Moers are also recognised.

Greenberg Traurig Germany’s clients ‘always like to exclusively seek the very good team’s advice’ on media law matters due to the ‘broad expertise’ of the practice led by Stefan Lütje: Besides ancilliary capabilities in media anti-trust law, in traditional media the team’s experience spans film funding, financing and production and the firm is also strongly rooted in the digital segment, where it regularly advises on VoD and OTT platforms, eCommerce and online marketplaces. The team’s most recent highlights include assisting ProSiebenSat.1 Media with media concentration issues in connection with a capital increase against cash contribution; advising Open Road Films on the production and distribution of the playmobil film; and continuously handling the development of a DVB-T2 platform for Media Broadcast. The team also acted in a series of media law landmark proceedings, including the representation of Paramount and CBS in a dispute with a dubbing actor. Niklas Conrad was promoted to counsel and Viola Bensinger is also recommended.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s media law practice is known for its longstanding experience and significant track record particularly in media transactions, but also advises with comprehensive expertise on the regulatory level, on media anti-trust, contractual and copyright matters. Recent highlights include assisting Viacom International Media Networks with the structuring and implementation of the joint venture Visoon Video Impact with Axel Springer, which bundles the advertisement sales of their TV channels, and advising Sky Deutschland on the compatibility of set-top boxes with EU eco-design requirements. The team surrounding the renowned Christoph Wagner is also active advising on distribution, audio rights marketing and platform development and regulation: Tele Columbus sought its advice regarding the development of the digital TV/VoD platform AdvancedTV. Various high-end and particularly international mandates again showed in 2017 that the firm has also established a recognised practice in the segments of film and TV funding, financing and production; esteemed Christiane Stützle, who acts as co-chair of the global film and entertainment group and was promoted to partner in January 2017, regularly assists with international film productions, local language productions by US studios and US TV series filmed in Germany. The client portfolio also includes DEAG Deutsche Entertainment AG and RNTS Media. Andreas Grünwald is the contact for anti-trust matters.

Taylor Wessing impresses its prominent and international client base not only with its ‘very high service level’, but also because of the ‘continuous availability of an advisor, who depending on the area of law can reach out to other experts’. The ‘totally recommendable’ media practice orients itself within the technology, media and telecoms group and handles copyright and media law issues in connection with the digital transformation, which regularly generates high-end mandates including contentious and strategic matters, such as representing Sky in proceedings against the Central Organisation for Private Recording Rights (ZPÜ) regarding the remuneration of authors on set-top boxes; advising EyeEm Mobile on eCommerce and copyright; and assisting Jukin Media, an aggregator and distributor of user-generated, trending and viral videos, with the illegal use of videos by TV channels. The close cooperation with the corporate practice also facilitates the transactional support of media companies and investors: Recent highlights include advising Benchmark Capital on a series B financing round in Contentful, a provider of content management systems for mobile and web-based applications. A particular strength is the ‘very high industry expertise’ of the gaming and betting sectors: Here the team assisted the online casino 888 in betting law proceedings at the Federal Court of Justice and regularly provides comprehensive advice to Nexon, Nintendo of Europe, Riot Games and Wargaming. Axel von dem Bussche leads the TMT practice, which also includes the ‘outstanding’ Tobias Schelinski and therefore ‘probably one of the best experts of the games industry’ and the ‘very good’ Britta Heymann.

Clients are ‘completely satisfied’ with Hertin & Partner, particularly due to the ‘fast and substantive advice’, the ‘profound industry knowledge’ and the ‘excellent industry expertise in copyright and media law’. With an explicit focus on copyright disputes the team ‘continues to be the first choice’ in that segment for many and therefore regularly acts in high-profile landmark proceedings: ‘Very experienced’ of counsel Paul Hertin, who ‘approaches questions in a balanced manner’, successfully concluded model proceedings surrounding the Pirates of the Caribbean after nine years by enforcing subsequent claims to remuneration by third parties for a dubbing actor against Buena Vista and Walt Disney. In other highlights Sandra Wagner, who is recommended for her ‘very good, flexible and personal collaboration’, regularly advises various dubbing actors and scriptwriters in complaint procedures against international collecting societies and channels to obtain additional commission for clients. The team also provides comprehensive advice to the German Screenwriters Association on copyright, film and association law matters and the Deutsche Auktionshaus and Stars in Concert Veranstaltungs GmbH are also clients.

K&L Gates LLP’s media practice has broadened its offering in recent years and now also advises broadcasting organisations on sport, art and music matters besides continuing to give media, anti-trust and copyright advice to collecting societies; online distribution of content via platforms and licence law matters are further pillars of the practice. Highlight matters in 2017 included the representation of a prominent German media company in proceedings against a film distributor regarding the question whether a percentage share in profits requires the evaluation of production; and advice to VG Media in model proceedings against ZPÜ concerning the participation of broadcasting organisations in the remuneration of private copies. Another client is the Association of Private Broadcasters and Telemedia in connection with negotiations with GEMA (the German society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction) about the contracts for the video-on-demand business division. The team also assisted WeltN24 with copyright aspects of a contract for the licensing of music rights for an advertisement clip and continues to represent the German Football League (DFL) in copyright criminal proceedings against the operators of an illegal streaming portal. Martin von Albrecht leads the practice.

Lausen Rechtsanwälte opened an office in Hamburg in June 2017 and is now present at three locations in Germany with a 14-strong team. The media boutique enjoys an excellent reputation for copyright and media law advice to broadcasting and media companies, production companies and agencies and is active on the contentious and non-contentious level. It also has particular expertise in internet piracy and matters related to user-generated content platforms. Matthias Lausen is well regarded.

Straßer Ventroni Deubzer Freytag & Jäger’s client portfolio extends from media, IT and telecoms companies to TV channels and publishers, production companies and industrial businesses, which seek advice on the entire spectrum of media, licence, distribution, copyright and unfair competition matters. With Philip Rödiger, previously at SNP Schlawien Partnerschaft MBB, the practice additionally gained a corporate lawyer with expertise in media transactions. In 2017 highlights Robert Straßer obtained an interim injunction against a far-right publisher due to copyright infringement for a regional TV channel; Stefan Freytag assists Vorwerk International with licence and cooperation agreements with publishers and eCommerce providers in the business area Thermomix; and Stefan Ventroni continues to advise Deutsche Bahn in cooperation with MAXDOME regarding the operation of VoD platforms in ICE trains. The client portfolio also includes ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Deutsche Telekom, Anschutz Entertainment and Malaika Pictures; the team advises the latter in connection with the Netflix production The Ivory Game. It also increasingly acts for advertisement companies.

Due to Unverzagt Von Have’s ‘unique knowledge of the film industry’ both national and international industry giants in the film and TV sector make use of its ‘fantastic advice, very quick response times and excellent business sense’. The team advises on the entire spectrum of media law in connection with the financing, production and distribution of cinema and TV films for clients such as Studio Babelsberg, BBC Worldwide and UFA Cinema. It also has expertise in webisodes, CGI and 3D productions and moving-image marketing. Harro von Have is frequently recommended and noted for his ‘comprehensive experience and very good network’.

In the media sector Boehmert & Boehmert acts with an explicit focus on copyright and provides ongoing advice to prominent companies in the film, music, book and magazine sectors. While copyright disputes, expert opinions and licensing matters constitute the bulk of the practice, the team surrounding the renowned Jan Bernd Nordemann also has experience in liability law advice to content platforms and content protection on the internet. Besides high-end film production companies, clients include a prominent philharmonic orchestra. Anke Nordemann-Schiffel is the contact for copyright matters in the scientific publishing sector.

Graef Rechtsanwälte has longstanding experience in advising production companies, film studios and TV channels on media and copyright law, but also handles matters in the eCommerce and games sectors. Ralph Graef recently provided comprehensive advice to Animationsfabrik regarding the film projects Prinzessin Emmy and Zac & Zoe, assisted ARTE with the spin-off of ARTE Magazin, now under the production of Axel Springer Corporate Solutions, and regularly acts for BBC Worldwide, EPIC Films, studio rakete and DOCDAYS Productions in connection with film law matters during co-productions. On the contentious level the team represented ACCENTA Music & P.O.S. in a dispute with a collecting society and in the games segment the ‘very good’ Christian Rauda advised Gentle Troll Entertainment on media law matters in the area of serious games. Since 2017 Alexander Graf von Kalckreuth no longer acts as of counsel to the firm.

Also in the media segment Hengeler Mueller’s ‘service is outstanding, both in the quality of the advice and the uncomplicated collaboration’. Recently the team surrounding the well regarded Albrecht Conrad, which is ‘big enough to also handle extensive mandates within a reasonable timeframe while maintaining a top quality’, particularly focused on contractual and copyright advice for content platforms and media and telecoms companies, such as assisting the Federal Association of Organisers of Musical Performances with negotiations with VG Media regarding the public broadcast of radio and TV and representing CTS Eventim in extrajudicial negotiations with GEMA concerning copyright remuneration for music playback at concerts. Another client is Vodafone Kabel Deutschland Unterhaltungsshow regarding the declaration of rights for new TV and OTT products during negotiations with collecting societies and broadcasting companies. Wolfgang Spoerr is also recommended.

KVLegal’s well regarded media law practice is firmly rooted in contentious media proceedings and recommended founding partners Urs Verweyen and Christlieb Klages again handled numerous proceedings in 2017, such as representing an independent computer manufacturer in several proceedings against ZPÜ, GEMA, VG Wort and VG Bild-Kunst regarding the equipment and storage media levy on PCs and tablets, assisting the author and composer of the Apassionata entertainment show in an investor dispute and defending various online media retailers against claims brought by international music bands such as Iron Maiden and Eric Clapton. Apart from contentious matters the team also regularly advises on copyright matters, including for the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Dokumentarfilm AGDOK, DFFB Berlin and Deutsche Kinemathek, and assists a notable amount of artists, film productions, photographers, authors and journalists with media and trade mark matters.

Clients primarily benefit from Klinkert Rechtsanwälte PartGmbB’s media law expertise with regard to contractual and transactional matters and copyright disputes. In recent highlights the team advised software company RealNetworks on copyright and unfair competition aspects of the development of innovative entertainment products and campaigns; continued to assist Refinery29 with copyright, media and competition law matters in connection with the European roll-out and the Europe-wide coordination of the subject eCommerce; and is also involved in three proceedings on the ancillary copyright for publishers as representative for 1&1 Mail & Media. Under the lead of Hermann Schlindwein the firm additionally has niche expertise in providing media law advice to the sports industry, such as assisting the German Football League (DFL) in the context of the tender of audiovisual and audio media rights. Practice head Piet Bubenzer and Johannes Zindelalways act proactively and find practical solutions even under time pressure’.

McDermott Will & Emery Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater LLP’s TMT practice was increasingly active in contentious proceedings in 2017. Wolfgang von Frentz and Christian Masch represented advertising marketer of the RTL group IP Deutschland in proceedings against Eyeo regarding the admissibility of ad blockers and ProSiebenSat.1 in injunction proceedings against the platform operator Exaring concerning distribution rights matters in connection with Waipu TV. RTL II regularly seeks the firm’s comprehensive advice on media law, including licence agreements and media law warnings, and the team continues to represent Deutschlandradio in proceedings regarding the continued payment of cable transmission charges against Unitymedia. The firm’s offering also includes media transactions and copyright advice. Von Frentz leads the practice together with Ralf Weisser.

Besides prominent figures in the film, music and online sectors, media boutique Scheuermann Westerhoff Strittmatter also advises advertising agencies, content platforms and production companies on the entire spectrum of digital and classic media law matters. The six-partner team is also experienced in advising film productions, apps and multi-channel networks and was recently able to expand its work in the art sector. Angelika Strittmatter and Oliver Poche are the key figures.

Beiten Burkhardt particularly convinces clients with its ‘outstanding knowledge of the games industry’, which enables the team to ‘respond to queries quickly, practically and cost-efficiently’. Under the lead of Andreas Lober, who is considered an ‘excellent expert of the games sector’, the team primarily advises game developers and publishers in the online sector and technology and software companies on the entire spectrum of media, child protection, trade mark and copyright matters. Recently it assisted Microsoft with the removal of various games from the list of games likely to harm minors and with child protection matters in connection with the game Dead Rising 4; in appeal proceedings a successful verdict was reached that the game will be published as the first in a series of games in Germany after previously having been classified as harmful to minors. The practice is also known for its comprehensive advice to broadcasting companies, such as advising Antenne Bayern on media and broadcast law matters in connection with broadcast licensing procedures. Katharina Mayerbacher was promoted to partner.

Lentze Stopper is known for its advice to the sports sector: the eight-partner team’s expertise ranges from media, anti-trust, licence and employment advice to advice on ticketing and sponsoring as well as promoter rights. Recent work includes advising FIFA on contractual matters in connection with the hosting of the world championship of 2026 and the ticketing for the championship of 2018; assisting the DFB with licence negotiations and agency contracts; and handling ticket enforcement for FC Bayern Munich and 12 other German Bundesliga clubs. Digital matters are also gaining in importance for the practice, such as representing the YouTube sport network Athletia Sports in licence law matters, and the team also saw new mandates in the eSports sector. Martin Stopper and Gregor Lentze are the key figures.

Osborne Clarke’s activity in media law matters is tightly linked with the digital expertise of its industry focus group Digital Business: The team surrounding the renowned Konstantin Ewald has a particular focus on online topics and eCommerce. It recently advised Facebook on the introduction of an eCommerce function on its website and GoPro on the establishment of a new eCommerce shop. Providing comprehensive advice to the games industry constitutes another pillar of the practice: Clients include the Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software (BIU) regarding the development of draft legislation for tax incentives for the games industry and Gameforge concerning regular strategic advice and representation in contentious matters. In the area of copyright disputes Martin Soppe represented Beautylane in connection with product images and in a transactional highlight the firm advised Funke Medien on the acquisition of media partisans. The team also works in close collaboration with the venture capital practice and frequently handles VC deals in the media sector.

White & Case LLP’s media expertise frequently surfaces in matters relating to technology and telecoms and also in media law disputes. The team, which often handles cross-border mandates, recently advised a Japanese-Korean internet company on telecoms issues regarding OTT services, concluded negotiations of addenda for an existing out-of-home media contract with Wall AG for the state capital Wiesbaden and also regularly acts for Unitymedia in disputes with the public broadcasting companies surrounding distribution agreements. In another contentious highlight Martin Munz successfully defended Facebook in injunction proceedings regarding the ‘Merkel selfies’.

Bird & Bird’s media law practice particularly focuses on copyright disputes, digital matters in connection with IT law and comprehensive advice to the sports industry, where the team recently saw increased media anti-trust matters. In recent highlights it advised the Bavarian radio (Bayrischen Rundfunk) on anti-trust matters in the area of sports marketing, continues to represent BITKOM, Lenovo, Motorola, Sony Mobil, Western Digital and Verbatim in proceedings regarding the copyright levies for storage media and regularly assists a media company with online-based transactions. The client portfolio also includes Philip Morris. Joseph Fesenmair leads the practice, which was able to strengthen its media regulatory expertise with the arrival of Niels Lutzhöft from Gleiss Lutz in July 2016.

Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek has expertise in copyright, media and contract law and longstanding experience in media regulation. The practice is led by Michael Schmittmann and besides numerous national and international TV channels also advises online platform operators and state media authorities. Highlights in 2017 include the defence of the Landesanstalt für Kommunikation Baden-Württemberg (the regional office for communications in Baden Würtemberg) in a frequency rights dispute surrounding terrestrial broadcasting in the broadcast area against Radio 3 Lokalfunk Ostwürttemberg, and the continued advice to Al Jazeera regarding the management of copyright, cable transmission and IPTV/OTT platforms. Other clients include Euronews, Bloomberg TV and CNBC.

Against the background of the digital transformation Heussen increasingly handles online topics and assists not only with copyright, media anti-trust and media regulatory matters but also frequently advises companies on media issues linked to IT and trade mark law and in connection with social media. Under the lead of Marcus Hotze the firm recently represented the comedy duo Frankfurter Klasse on performance and marketing contracts and cooperations in the area of social media; advised a brewery company on copyright and media law aspects of various cooperation and agency agreements; and practice head Hermann Waldhauser assisted WEKA Media with the adaption of author and publisher contracts to meet the copyright contract amendment regulation. The team furthermore advises numerous start-ups on media law matters.

Primarily international content providers seek Reed Smith’s media law expertise with regards to copyright, media, licence and transactional matters; in 2017 the firm also saw novel high-end mandates in the area of title copyright. Alexander Klett continues to represent various users, producers and distributors in copyright disputes surrounding device levies on storage media and defended Yahoo! in legal actions by VG Media regarding claims based on ancillary copyright. In a transactional highlight Stephan Rippert advised AMC, Inc. on the acquisition of an international TV chain. Clients also include Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Bloomberg.

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