ECJ rules students cannot use online photos without consent | News | DW | 07.08.2018
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ECJ rules students cannot use online photos without consent

The ECJ ruling came after a photographer sued a German school for €400 when it published one of his photos without permission. A student had downloaded the photo from a travel magazine website.

On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that students may not use any image downloaded from the internet for school reports without permission from the photographer who made it.

The court in Luxembourg made the ruling in a case involving a German high school.

A photographer sued the school in Waltop, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, for €400 ($460) in damages after he saw a photo he had taken of the Spanish city of Cordoba on its website. He also demanded the photo be removed from the school's site.

The photo appeared in a report presented by one of the school's students. The student had simply downloaded the picture from an online travel website and pasted it into her presentation without the photographer's permission.

'Public reproduction' and third-party usage

The photographer claims the travel magazine alone was licensed to use his photo, which appeared on its site without a copyright attribution. Therefore, he argued, third party usage was an infringement of his rights, a claim with which the ECJ agreed.

The case was originally brought before Germany's Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe, which referred it to the ECJ for clarification.

The BGH sought an ECJ opinion to determine whether "public reproduction" rules applied to works originally reproduced online with the permission of the photographer but without a photo credit. The ECJ found that copyright rules do apply in such cases because further reproduction of the work by a third party presented it to a "new audience."

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