A professional photographer, well-known in the sports and travel industry, took legal action against Süddeutsche Zeitung for using one of his photographs without crediting him as the author. The use occurred in both the print and online editions. After an out-of-court settlement respecting our client’s rights could not be reached, our client had to enforce his rights through litigation – successfully.
High Importance of the Right to be Credited as an Author
The Munich District Court ruled that Süddeutsche Zeitung had acquired the rights to the said photograph from a big image agency, but had violated the plaintiff’s right to recognition of his authorship by failing to credit him. The court clarified that our client had neither waived his right to be credited as an author nor was there any industry practice that would preclude such crediting. Furthermore, the court emphasized that a permanent and irrevocable waiver of the right to be credited as an author is not readily possible due to the close link of this right with the right to personal integrity in authorship.
High Standard of Care in the Use of Copyright-Protected Images
The court made it clear that every user of a copyright-protected photograph must ensure that the author’s right to personal integrity is respected. In this case, Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH had trusted that image source attribution would suffice with only the mention of the image agency. However, this reliance was negligent. The court states that there is a high standard of care in copyright law, for which every user of a copyright-protected image is responsible.
Damages Awarded in Favour of the Professional Photographer
Due to the violation of the right to personal integrity in authorship, Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH was ordered to pay damages to our client.
To the point
This judgment underscores that the user of a copyright-protected photograph cannot transfer the responsibility for complying with the right to personal integrity in authorship to others. Anyone who uses a copyright-protected photograph is responsible for their handling of it and must bear the consequences in case of a violation.