The end of copyright as we know it, avoided


Ulrike Grübler

The end of copyright as we know it, avoided

triloks /

The CJEU’s decision in a case concerning copyright and a school presentation has provided some good guidance for rights owners, says Ulrike Grübler of DLA Piper.

The question of under what circumstances a work is made available to the public is one of the most disputed subjects in EU copyright law. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled on a number of cases over the last years including GS Media (C-160/15), Svensson and Others (C-466/12) and Stichting Brein (C-610/15).

With its August 2018 decision in Land Nordrhein-Westfalen v Dirk Renckhoff (C-161/17), the CJEU has added another facet to the court’s line of jurisdiction. It confirmed that the posting of a picture on a website without the consent of the rights owner constitutes an infringement even if the website from which the picture was taken did not provide any restrictions preventing its being downloaded.

The case involved a dispute between a photographer, Dirk Renckhoff, and a German school which is operated by the Land Nordrhein-Westfalen, a German federal state. The claimant, Renckhoff, took the disputed photo of the city of Cordoba and granted the exclusive right to the operator of an online travel portal. The portal posted the picture on its website without any restrictive measures preventing its being downloaded. A student at the German school downloaded the photograph from the travel website and included it in a school presentation for her Spanish class. In addition, the pupil provided acknowledgment of the website from which she had downloaded the photograph.

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