Mon, Dec. 20, 2010

Pay to Click: Palace in the Box

CK - Washington.   Public foundations curating palaces, castles, museums and the like may charge photographers for pictures taken (a) on, and (b) of their facilities for commercial use, the German Supreme Court for Civil Matters, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe ruled on December 17, 2010. The decision clarifies that public owners of real estate enjoy the same rights as private owners. Neither may block pictures taken from offsite but all enjoy a property right to control onsite photography.

In addition, the court affirmed its rulings on internet immunities: A portal listing photos of such facilities will be immune from liability until it has knowledge of an infringement. The existence of a third-party photo uploaded by a forum user does not confer such knowledge onto the site operator because the forum cannot determine whether or not (a) the photo was taken with permission, or (b) taken off or on the grounds. The approach is similar to the CDA/DMCA safe harbor rules in the United States.

To date, the court has issued only a detailed press release on its website. As is the BGH's custom, the written opinion will follow. The Medien Internet und Recht site provides, among other things, links to the lower court rulings in the case which combines three matters, V ZR 44/10, V ZR 45/10 and V ZR 46/10, in the top-level review.

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