Rightfully, damages are due to the photographer for copyright infringements of his images. MFM tables in this case serve as valid and useful orientation for fair, market-based damages. In some cases these even apply beyond the German national border. At this point, we will examine the background, principles and specifics of MFM calculation.

MFM – What’s behind all this?

The Mittelstandsgemeinschaft Foto-Marketing (MFM) annually publishes image fees as an overview on regular market payment for picture utilization rights. These are tariff agreements between the MFM-affiliated picture agencies and photographers – their organizations respectively – and are commonly viewed as “the German standard” for calculating damages in cases of image right infringements.

The market-based and achieved average fees in this instance provide the basis of the calculation of the values. Many verdicts in court are reached in consideration of MFM tables and license analogy – value determined which the author would have obtained in case of a contractual agreement between both parties.

How measuring the value works

The sort and extent of usage are pivotal for determining the specific amounts of MFM tables. These conform to the respective “channel“ of use or rather the specific medium of (commercial) use and the utilized circulation, as well as the used image size and quality.

All print and digital applications are listed in different compensation categories, such as for single use, general use and other uses. Every conceivable usable area is covered here, e.g. from simple postcards, flyers, light boxes and window display advertising, magazines and newspapers, imprints on objects, to all electronic media, apps, audio and e-books, as well as all kinds of web presences. Consequently, there are specific guide values for orientation in case of copyright infringements for a broad variety of media.

Scope of application

Often, professional photographers can obtain damages for their illegally used images by submitting previous invoices. If there are no such comparative values available, judicial practice reverts to the market-based averages of MFM calculation.

MFM tables are generally considered valid as orientation for determining damages in German courts. Nevertheless, we personally know about cases where courts in Poland and the Netherlands also granted and accepted these as the base of jurisdiction. If an out-of-court settlement is reached, MFM values are also rated as assessment basis.

Characteristics of license surcharge

In addition to the claim for damages, surcharges may be applied to the notional license, depending on the manner of copyright infringement. For instance, a surcharge of 100% is normally levied if the author is not mentioned.

Other surcharges – due to higher production costs e.g. – include aerial views and under-water shots (plus 100%) and photographs using models (plus 30%, six models or more plus 100%) among others. For other costly or extraordinary shots, an additional charge is determined by arrangement.

Here are different examples of usages as per MFM calculation.

Example of use (Standings as of 2016) Fee
3 months on homepage, size of longest side up to 1500px 225 €
1 month on social media platform 179 €
6 months on social media platform 321 €
travel brochure (print/PDF) circulation up to 50,000 (image size DIN A5) 145 €
flyer (print/PDF) circulation up to 100,000 (image size DIN A6) 350 €
All fees are to be doubled if the author was not mentioned.

Your damages as per MFM calculation

When the copyright of your images is infringed, you as the author in court are entitled to damages. In this case, MFM tables often serve as an orientation for fair assessment under German law.

PhotoClaim is happy to help you fight for your rights on this basis. We stand up for your damages by MFM average. If you prefer your usual fees compared to the average, we will use these charges.

If you need any help, please do not hesitate to contact us and see what we can do for you.
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