German Court Finds No Violation for Photographing and Licensing Photos of Property

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The law about property releases is often disputed.  But as previously reported, no court has found that taking and selling photos of property violates any rights of the owner, unless the photographer trespasses on the property.  The case of Benjamin Ham is instructive on this subject.

Along those lines, Heise Online reported on a recent court decision in Germany (here is the translated version) finding that a photographer is not liable for taking and licensing/selling photos of a park.  Of note, the park specifically restricted sales of photos of the park for commercial purposes.  Tobias Weisserth provided the background and explanation of the report:

The owner of a private park and château was banning the commercial use of pictures taken in that park. A photographer took pictures of the château and sold them to an agency which in turn published the picture in their online portal. The owner of the park sued the agency for publishing the pictures (under “Störerhaftung” in German law, disturbance liability). Landgerichts (LG) Potsdam first ruled in favour of the proprietary owner while the appeal verdict at the Brandenburger Oberlandesgericht (OLG) negates this ruling. It’s not yet in effect yet. The ruling’s reasons claimed that there is no such thing as a proprietary owner’s privilege to the use of pictures of its property. Every photographer has the right to make (commercial) use of the pictures taken. Otherwise, taking pictures free of risk would only be possible within ‘your own four walls’ and at sea.

While similar, the law in Germany may be different than that in the United States.  Regardless, these decisions are good news for photographers.

Thanks to Tobias Weisserth for submitting this topic.

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