Photo Laws Germany
The Deichtorhallen is one of the largest photography and contemporary art galleries in Europe. The “House of Photography” presents international exhibitions focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries as well as contemporary photographers. (www.deichtorhallen.de, Deichtorstraße 1-2, 20095 Hamburg) Two photographers, Willy Wilcke and Max Christian Priester, bribed a servant to keep them informed of Bismarck`s condition, and (l) sneaked into Bismarck`s room in the first hours after his death to take the photo. They then held an auction to sell the rights to the photo and attracted a bid for 30,000 Reichsmarks (about 210,000 euros in current currency). The auction sparked massive controversy and photographers and servants were arrested two days after the auction. They were sentenced to short prison terms, the photos and negatives were confiscated and handed over to the Bismarck family. The photo itself was not printed by a German newspaper until 1952. The subject of the photo can sue for damages1. They have 3 years to do so1.
The 3-year period begins with the last distribution of image1. The photographer and publisher (including websites) can be sued1. You may have to pay the victim`s legal fees.1, 2 Privacy is defined as “the condition or condition of being safe from being watched or disturbed by others.” Obviously, it would be objectively unreasonable to expect privacy to be respected on a city street or on a crowded subway. So if someone claims that anyone can take pictures of anything they want when they are in a public place, another way of saying that a person`s right to privacy does not apply unless that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. More directly, you have waived any expectation that you cannot be “watched or disturbed by other people” because you enter a public space or a position where you can be seen by others in a public space. And that`s why a street photographer in public space can take a picture of anything he can see from that point of view, even subjects on private property, as long as they are in public. For example, a photographer would be free to photograph a couple sitting on a restaurant terrace, or even in the restaurant through a window, as long as the photographer is on public property. You don`t need permission to take, share, and sell photos of buildings and vehicles in public spaces. These rights are called “panorama rights”1, 2. For example, you can sell posters of a classic car parked on the street1, 2. You do not need the permission of the owner.
Originally, family, holiday and other photographs taken spontaneously by individuals and not necessarily intended for publication were not treated as “photographs” within the meaning of copyright. These are now called “photographic works” and are protected by copyright, provided that they are “own intellectual creations” of the author (§ 2 UrhG). The copyright of a “photographic work” expires seventy years after the death of the author (§2 64 UrhG).  The Berlin School of Photography offers a three-hour street art tour that gives participants the opportunity to improve their street photography skills. With a professional photographer, you will explore Berlin Kreuzberg and its biggest hotspots. Another collective is Soul of Street (www.soulofstreet.de), which also publishes a street photography magazine in which they feature interviews with well-known street photographers or interesting articles about street photography in general. In addition, they organize photo walks and anyone who wants to participate can participate for free. This strict protection of privacy is controversial in Germany; Many people think they are making absurd and unachievable demands, especially in an age when every adult carries a camera and VCR in their pocket.
Photographers, artists and journalists generally dislike them because laws impose onerous consent and reporting requirements. Yet courts tend to be quite reasonable when asked to decide cases: if you simply post a harmless photo of your friends at a Facebook concert, and someone in the background recognizes themselves and sues you, a court will likely refuse to be asked to decide such a trivial case. Nevertheless, the Federal Constitutional Court recently upheld a judgment of 5,000 euros (g) against a street photographer whose image of a Berlin pedestrian was prominently displayed in an open-air exhibition. The court recognized the uniqueness of street photography as an art form based on spontaneous, non-pixelated images without prior consent, but still found that the personality rights of the person in the photo could outweigh artistic freedom. But while data protection laws are stricter here, that doesn`t mean you`re not allowed to take street photos in Germany. People love their privacy more than in other cities, but there are many street photographers in Germany who say that it is quite possible to take pictures there. Now, when I use phrases like forbidden or allowed, it doesn`t mean you`ll inevitably be sued. For this to happen, the person you took a photo of needs to know that you took and posted the photo. Then they need to contact a lawyer and convince the lawyer to take over the case. The lawyer will then usually send you a reminder letter asking you to remove the image, sign a declaration of cessation and abstention that you will not republish it and pay the legal fees for the preparation of the letter, which are usually a few hundred or thousands of euros. (These fees are invariably excessive and have no legal basis, never sign anything, or pay the required fees without first consulting a lawyer.) The KUG even provides for criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to one year.
However, prosecutors almost never prosecute people for crimes under this law, except in truly outrageous cases. Both freedom of expression and the general right to personality are constitutional rights enshrined in the Basic Law. If the violation of image and photo rights also constitutes a violation of at least one of these two constitutional rights, the Federal Constitutional Court may rule on the individual case in Germany as a last resort. ZELLER & SEYFERT`s lawyers are familiar with the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, in particular with regard to disputes relating to image and photo rights. Our lawyers represent your personal interests competently and comprehensively before the Federal Constitutional Court. They examine your image and photo rights case in detail and advise you on whether a complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court has a reasonable chance of success. In both areas of image and photo law, the German civil courts are competent: Another recommended city for photographing streets is Hamburg, which is close to the sea and where you will find great places and a mix of different cultures.