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Germany

German Court Limits Photo Manipulation

Photographs of people can't be manipulated by the German media in such a way that the changes cannot be clearly seen, the country's highest court ruled on Tuesday. The Federal Constitutional Court ruling came in a case brought by Ron Sommer, the former head of communications giant Deutsche Telekom, against business magazine Wirtschaftswoche over a photo montage itpublished of him. The court ruled that Sommer's "personal rights" had been violated by the 2000 photograph because it depicted a slightly distorted image of his head atop a crumbling letter "T", the company's symbol. Sommer first sued in Germany's Federal High Court, saying the image portrayed him in an unfavourable light, but the tribunal said the photo was satirical and ruled against him citing freedom of expression laws. But the constitutional court, based in Karlsruhe, western Germany, overturned the ruling, saying that it was not immediately obvious the image had been of a satirical nature. "Personal rights" are guaranteed by the German constitution and are aimed at stopping the rights of an individual being violated, mainly by the misuse of personal data. According to the court, the laws ban "the spreading of technically manipulated pictures which could lead people to believe that they are the representation of an actual person."

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