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EU Court of Justice rules on online Photograph use

The Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday ruled on 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’.

Internet users must ask for a photographer’s permission before publishing their images, even if the photos were already freely accessible elsewhere online.

It’s a ruling that will find favour from all of the photographers that Powerboat Racing World uses, there was a recent incident where Jim Hardy of the Wessex News Agency trawled this web site and sold the images to British newspapers.

Janosch Delcker of Politico reports that:

The court had been asked to decide on a case in Germany, in which a secondary school student downloaded and used a photo that had been freely accessible on a travel website for a school project. The photo was later posted on the school’s website as well.

The photographer who took the picture argued the school’s use of his photo was a copyright infringement because he only gave the travel site permission to use it, and claimed damages amounting to €400.

The ECJ ruled in the photographer’s favour, saying that under the EU’s Copyright Directive, the school should have gotten his approval before publishing the photo.

‘The Court goes on to hold that, subject to the exceptions and limitations laid down exhaustively in that directive, any use of a work by a third party without such prior consent must be regarded as infringing the copyright of that work’, the court said.

The court also said it is ‘of little importance’ if the copyright holder does not limit ‘the ways in which the photograph may be used by internet users’.

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