How A German Student's School Presentation Kickstarted A Landmark EU Copyright Case

8th August 2018

The ruling came after a secondary school student in Germany downloaded a photograph of the city of Cordoba in Spain from a travel website to use in a presentation.

Users who publish content freely available on the internet need to get consent from the person behind it, The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled, in a landmark case that is set to boost the EU’s creative industries.

The ruling came after a secondary school student in Germany downloaded a photograph of the city of Cordoba in Spain from a travel website to use in a presentation. The presentation was then published on the school website.

Photographer Dirk Renckhoff, who took the photo, then sued the city of Waltrop and North Rhine-Westphalia for copyright infringement and €400 in damages.

The German court sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based ECJ, which went against a non-binding opinion from its adviser four months ago.

“The posting on a website of a photograph that was freely accessible on another website with the consent of the author requires a new authorisation by that author,” judges said.

“By posting on the internet, the photograph is made available to a new public,” they said.

Regulators say they lose out because illegal uploads of works on big online platforms, such as YouTube and Dailymotion, deny publishers, broadcasters and artists of revenues. But this new ruling could potentially result in a flood of litigation as artists assert their rights.


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