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Films and Associated Film Material

Legal basis for use

Everyone, in principle, is entitled to use the records and material in the Federal Archives dating back to a time more than 30 years in the past. This time reference is irrelevant for already published documents, provided their state of preservation allows their use and no legal or contractual conditions, e.g. arising from copyright or custodial agreements, preclude this.

The Federal Archives Act (Law on the Preservation and Use of Federal Archival Documents), the Ordinance Governing the Use of Archival Documents at the German Federal Archives, the Federal Archives Cost Regulations and the Reading Room Regulations of the Federal Archives lay down the terms and conditions of use.

Particular legal and contractual requirements may apply to the use of documents relevant from a personal and copyright perspective, as well to archival material of private origin.

How can I use films and associated film material?

Associated film material and special library

Associated film material is available for personal viewing in the reading room. You are welcome to visit during opening hours, but to be better prepared it is advisable to send advance notification or to inquire in writing or by telephone whether documentation on the desired topic is available. Archive documents and records can be pre-ordered.

A visit to the special film library is also possible during reading room opening hours or by arrangement.

Films - Viewable Media

Depending on availability as well as on material still being existent, media may be viewed solely in the rooms of the film archives at Fehrbelliner Platz subject to timely notification beforehand. Viewing desks for 16 mm and 35 mm material, as well as video stations, are available for supervised individual viewing. A cinema auditorium that seats 40-50 people and a seminar room with 20 places, both equipped with DVD/VHS projectors, can be booked for larger groups. There is also the possibility to borrow media for viewing, presentation and duplication externally.

What charges and expenses are involved?

Inquiries regarding films/associated film material – use of associated film material

The answering of simple inquiries and the viewing of associated film material are generally free of charge. Complex research (taking more than 30 minutes) will incur charges as set out in the Cost Regulations.

Film use

The charges and expenses involved in the use of films vary, depending on the type and purpose of use. Certain film viewings and other kinds of use may be free of charge, as set out in the Federal Archives Cost Regulations. Use for commercial purposes however is subject to charge in any case, as is the borrowing of originals/masters for reproductions.

In case of borrowing and duplication, additional charges will, as appropriate, be incurred in compensation for utilisation and exploitation rights. External service providers offer duplication onto any desired carrier medium and in any desired format at customary market prices.

Notes for users of film for the purpose of film and television productions(pdf, ~77.94KB)
Conditions générales de consultation et de l'exploitation des documents conservés au service des archives du film de la R.F.A.(pdf, ~30.09KB)
Terms and Conditions for Lending Film Copies(pdf, ~93.87KB)
Conditions de location de copies de films(pdf, ~83.24KB)
Erklärung zur Rechtefreistellung(pdf, ~24.49KB)
For use of cinematographic works of non-identifiable rights holders.
List of laboratories (Aug. 2015)(pdf, ~132.71KB)

How should I proceed if interested? - Information on how to prepare for use

To prepare for your visit or an alternative use, please send a written inquiry describing the use you intend. You have the possibility to search usable film media online in the "Benutzungsmedien Film Online" database and several reference works on selected subjects, as well as the library catalogue. You will have further databases and written finding aids at your disposal in the reading room when visiting the film archives. A reliable record of film collection titles is available, it being possible to research film-related questions insofar as subject indexing has taken place. Associated film material is indexed mainly according to the film title or names of the filmmakers.

We will be glad to inform you by phone beforehand regarding possibilities of use. A written inquiry and an approved user request are in any case required for any subsequent use.

We would ask you to send your inquiry regarding films or associated film material including, as applicable, a list of the desired archive material or film titles, as well as a completed and signed user request, by email, fax or post to the adjacent address. Please do not forget to state your first and last name, your institution, postal address as well as billing and shipping address, as applicable, and the topic and type of use intended.

You may also use the webpage contact form "Benutzungsmedien Film Online" for any inquiries regarding films.

Can I buy media?

For legal reasons the Federal Archives do not offer any videos containing complete films or excerpts for sale. Prospective buyers are referred to the rights holders, who must give their consent for the production of a DVD. As this generally concerns individual items, the production costs will normally range between several hundred and a thousand euros, such that any purchase for private purposes is highly improbable.

Mainly DEFA films and feature films from the period up until 1945 can be bought commercially. The “Verzeichnis lieferbarer Kaufmedien" (register of available purchase media) lists the video media currently available commercially in Germany.

Additional information


Infoblatt Filmarchiv(pdf, ~670.66KB)