September 13, 2018
The Court of Justice of the European Union (the “Court”) has issued a decision that may have implications regarding the free flow of pictures across the Internet.
A student at a school in Germany downloaded a photo that had been freely accessible on a travel website and used the photo for a school project. The school then published the project – containing the photo – on its website. The original photographer was Dirk Renckhoff, who initially authorized the travel website to use his photo.
Renckhoff claimed that he only provided consent for the travel website to use the photo and that posting it on the school's website infringed his copyright. The Court agreed, effectively ruling that re-posting a photo that was freely accessible on another website requires a new authorization from the author to avoid infringement.
However, the Court also noted that the school’s action would have been permissible if hyperlinks were used to direct users back to the original image on the travel website.
Author: Steve Inglis