Internet users must ask for a photographer’s permission before publishing their images, even if the photos were already freely accessible elsewhere online, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday.
“The posting on a website of a photograph that was freely accessible on another website with the consent of the author requires a new authorisation by that author,” the EU’s top court said in a statement.
The court had been asked to decide on a case in Germany, in which a secondary school student downloaded and used a photo that had been freely accessible on a travel website for a school project. The photo was later posted on the school’s website as well.
The photographer who took the picture argued the school’s use of his photo was a copyright infringement because he only gave the travel site permission to use it, and claimed damages amounting to €400.
The ECJ ruled in the photographer’s favor, saying that under the EU’s Copyright Directive, the school should have gotten his approval before publishing the photo.