Back in July, a Virginia federal court’s controversial ruling over the usage of photos found online without the respective photographers’ permission, even for commercial purposes, could be considered fair use.
Now, a new case has led a European Union court to issue a notable ruling that deems the opposite.
The court has established that one cannot simply republish a photo, which has been easily attained through the internet, without its photographer’s permission.
This ‘Land Nordrhein-Westfalen v Dirk Renckhoff’ case that sparked the decision involves a student who had downloaded an image from a travel website before using it inside a school presentation, which was eventually published on the school’s website.
When its photographer Dirk Renckhoff came across the unauthorized use of his image, he proceeded to sue the school, seeking €400 (US$464) in damages.
The EU court ruled in Renckhoff’s favor on the basis that Renckhoff had given usage rights only to the travel website. Therefore his photograph on the school’s website was an infringement of the photographer’s copyright. It went on to explain that any usage of work by a third party sans prior consent by its creator can be considered an infringement of its copyright.
Inside the statement below, the court explains, “The directive aims to establish a high level of protection for authors, allowing them to obtain an appropriate reward for the use of their works, including on the occasion of communication to the public.”
Further, the court emphasized that it was not the photographer’s responsibility to shield his or her image from copyright infringement. “Lastly, the Court states that it is of little importance if, as in the present case, the copyright holder does not limit the ways in which the photograph may be used by internet users.”