NEWS

SimonGraeser Achieves Significant Victory for Authors’ Rights – Successful Damages Claim on Behalf of a Professional Photographer against Süddeutsche Zeitung for Failure to Credit Authorship

Munich District Court, Judgment of 24.08.2023 – 161 C 825/23

 Contents

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.

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Karin Simon
Lawyer
Certified IP Lawyer

Susanne Graeser
Lawyer
Certified IP Lawyer

Uhlandstr. 2
80336 Munich
Germany

Phone +49 89 90 42 27 51-0
Fax +49 89 90 42 27 51-9

Karin Simon
Rechtsanwältin

Fachanwältin für
gewerblichen Rechtsschutz

Susanne Graeser
Rechtsanwältin

Fachanwältin für
gewerblichen Rechtsschutz

Uhlandstr. 2
D-80336 München

Tel. +49 89 90 42 27 51-0
Fax +49 89 90 42 27 51-9