EU Court Says School Lacked Right to Post Travel Photo

(CN) – Europe’s highest court sided Tuesday with a photographer who went after a German secondary school for posting his work on the internet as part of a student project.

Dirk Renckhoff sought about $463 in damages when he learned that the photo he allowed to have published on a travel website had migrated to the website of the school Gesamtschule Waltrop in Land North Rhein-Westphalia, Germany.

As noted in the European Court of Justice’s records on the case, an unnamed student downloaded the photograph from the travel website to illustrate a presentation she had made for her Spanish class. A copy of the photograph appears on a preliminary ruling in the case, issued by an advocate general for the European Court of Justice this past April. It depicts the city of Cordoba, Spain.

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice asked the court in Luxembourg to advise it on whether Renckhoff has a case, considering that he already made the photo available to the public by authorizing the travel website to post it.

Siding with Renckhoff on Tuesday, the court said that the school effectively made the photo available to a “new public” and thus should have obtained a new authorization.

A copy of Tuesday’s ruling is not available in English, but a press release from the court distinguishes what happened here “from the making available of protected works by means of clickable link leading to another website on which the initial communication was made.”

“Unlike hyperlinks, which contribute to the smooth functioning of the internet, the publication on one website without the authorization of the copyright holder of a work previously published on another website with the consent of that copyright holder does not contribute, to the same extent, to that objective,” the press release states.

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