Attorneys for Image Law & Photo Law in Germany: Legal Representation of the Aggrieved Party
In Germany, images and photographs may be used, distributed or publicly displayed only with the consent of the person portrayed in the image or photograph. If an image or photo of you appears on the internet, somewhere in the German press, or in any other German media publication, you can generally prevent this public use of your image or photo if you have not previously consented to it. Exceptions to this basic rule are, within narrow limits, contained in the German Law on the Protection of Copyrights in Works of Art and Photographs (Kunsturhebergesetz, KUG).
There is a separate protection for the copyright owner of an image or a photograph, which may or may not be the person who is portrayed in the image or photograph: It constitutes copyright infringement, if an image or photo is copied, distributed, or published without the prior consent of the copyright owner.
ZELLER & SEYFERT is a German litigation law firm with specialized attorneys in the areas of copyright law, image law, and photo law. Our attorneys represent copyright owners of images and photos as well as persons who are portrayed in the images and photos. In our litigation law firm, Attorney Dr. Christian Seyfert, LL.M. (USA) will take care of handling your case concerning images, photos, and copyrights. Atty. Dr. Seyfert is a Certified Copyright & Media Law Specialist and a Certified IP Law Specialist. He has been dealing with copyright law, image law, and photo law cases in Germany for many years.
Typical cases of application / areas of image law & photo law in Germany
- Illustrated press reports / media reports
- Unauthorized uses and exploitations of celebrity photos for advertising purposes
- Unauthorized commercial exploitations of the right to one person’s own image and likeness
- Violations of the right to one person’s own image and likeness (e.g. by unauthorized publication of personal photos on Facebook)
- German Law on the Protection of Copyrights in Works of Art and Photographs (KUG)
- Persons of contemporary history
- Paparazzi photos / protection against paparazzi
- Pictures and photographs of already deceased persons (post-mortem personal right of the deceased’s relatives)
- Unauthorized use or reproduction of photos (copyright infringement), e.g. by posting such photos on the internet or by using such photos for promotional purposes
- Photographs and photographic works
- Packshots: Unauthorized use of photographs on products by third parties
- Fee recommendations of the German SME community for photo marketing
- Service catalogue of the German collecting society Bild-Kunst
- Privacy violations / data protection violations: Unauthorized use of personal data
Legal Representation before German Civil Courts
German civil courts have jurisdiction in both areas of image law & photo law:
- The right to your own image or likeness has been violated because your image or likeness has been published in a photograph without your prior consent.
- Your copyrights to a photograph have been violated because the respective photograph has been copied, distributed or published without your prior consent.
In both areas, you can rely on the experience of our attorneys, who have years of experience in enforcing the copyrights and rights to our clients’ own image and likeness before German civil courts. In particular, the following claims are available against the infringer of your copyrights or your rights to your own image and likeness:
- Injunctive relief against the continued unauthorized use of your copyright, image or likeness
- Requests for information from the infringer of your copyrights or your rights to your own image or likeness on the nature and extent of the unauthorized use of the respective rights (right to information)
- Particularly for claims for damages, profits made
by the infringer of your copyrights or your rights to your own image or likeness and compensation according to the license analogy principle (damages for infringement of your copyrights or your rights to your own image or likeness)
- Claims for additional monetary compensation in cases of severe impairments of your personality right and your right to your own image or likeness
- Right of reply, revocation, rectification, and adjustment when a photo or an image is connected with false assertions of fact
- Claims to destruct the illegally distributed and published images and photographs as well as devices with which the images and photographs have been produced
- Instead of the destruction: Claim to transfer the produced images and photographs as well as the devices for a reasonable fee to the claimant
Legal Representation before German Criminal Courts
The unauthorized manufacture, transmission, distribution, and public display of pictures or photographs, in which persons are depicted, is under certain conditions an offence against German criminal law. Also, certain forms of copyright infringement violate German criminal law. Our attorneys provide the necessary legal proficiency to represent you against the offender before the competent German criminal court.
Legal Representation before the Federal German Constitutional Court
Both the freedom of expression and the general right of personality are constitutional rights that are enshrined in the German Constitution (German Basic Law). If the infringement on image and photo rights also constitutes a violation of at least one of these two constitutional rights, the Federal German Constitutional Court may decide the individual case in the last instance in Germany. The attorneys of ZELLER & SEYFERT are familiar with the case law of the Federal German Constitutional Court, particularly on image law and photo law disputes. Our attorneys will represent your personal interests competently and comprehensively before the Federal German Constitutional Court. They will review your image law and photo law case in detail and will advise you on whether an appeal to the Federal German Constitutional Court has a reasonable chance of success.
Legal Representation before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg
Another chance to enforce your freedom of expression and your general right of personality provides you an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. The “Caroline” decisions of the ECHR from 2004 (judgment of June 24, 2004, No. 59320/00) and 2012 (judgments of February 7, 2012, No. 40660/08 and No. 60641/08), have profoundly stirred up the case law in Germany concerning the proper balance between the general right of personality protection on the one hand and the protection of the freedom of the press on the other hand, particularly when it comes to the use of personal images and photos in photojournalism. Our attorneys are familiar with the case law of the ECHR. They will guide you through the course of the proceedings before the ECHR and advise you on your chances of success there.
Legal Representation in Summary Proceedings (Speedy Trials)
In image law and photo law cases of particular urgency, ZELLER & SEYFERT’s attorneys will quickly enforce your copyrights and the rights to your own image and likeness in a speedy trial (summary proceeding) before the competent German court. Our trial lawyers are familiar with the peculiarities of speedy trials (summary proceedings) before German courts, particularly on image law and photo law issues. Our attorneys welcome your e-mails and phone calls to talk with you about your individual case.
Legal Representation out of court
In many image law and photo law cases, starting a lawsuit in Germany to enforce your rights to your own image and likeness can be avoided by finding an amicable settlement with the infringer of your rights out of court. According to German civil law, claimants generally have the burden to first send a warning letter out of court to the infringing party. This warning letter is also called a cease and desist letter because it requests from the infringer to cease and desist from violating your rights to your own image and likeness in the future. This letter shall inform the infringer about its legal violations and seek an amicable settlement between the parties. Rushing with an image law and photo law case to court without prior requesting from the infringer to cease and desist from its legal violations may otherwise have the consequence that you have to pay for the entire court fees and attorney fees of both sides, even if you later win the entire lawsuit.
Defending Clients against Image Law & Photo Law Claims of others
The attorneys of ZELLER & SEYFERT will also represent you in the reverse situation: If somebody in Germany has put forward claims concerning rights to his own image and likeness against you, a quick response by a German attorney is regularly needed and generally advisable. If you have been served with documents from a German court or you have received such documents otherwise, a quick response by a German attorney is often necessary to avoid missing deadlines set by the German court. Litigation in image law & photo law cases in Germany is our attorneys’ forte. Please just call us or send us an e-mail. Our attorneys will quickly evaluate your case and discuss with you possible options of legal defense in Germany.