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Photography and Copyright Infringement

Given the tech savvy society, which we live in, it is all too easy to get caught up in the ‘selfie’ culture. More easily done is the potential to loose track of the rules governing copyright law – specifically IP relating to the use of others’ photos.

The ECJ recently gave a preliminary ruling concerning whether a copyright owner could bring proceedings for infringement against a third party for publishing online the owner’s work (without their consent) for others to view and download.

The case concerned a professional photographer (the “Claimant”) and a conference organiser (the “Defendant”) who made the Claimants photographs available online for others to view and download. The website used another jurisdiction’s domain which targeted users from outside the jurisdiction which the Claimant was based.

The ECJ held that under Article 5(3) of the Brussels Regulation (44/2001/EC), proceedings could be brought in any of the member states where the relevant website was accessible. However, each court was confined to its own jurisdiction and as such, could only rule on damage incurred within its jurisdiction respectively. The court found in the Claimant’s favour and disagreed that the targeting of the website at users outside the Claimant’s jurisdiction was relevant.

This case underscores the rise in popularity of work (i.e. photographs) being used online without the owner’s explicit permission to do so. The ECJ’s ruling could possibly be seen as a way forward, specifically for copyright owners seeking justice against third parties who are seen to infringe their IP rights. Furthermore, Claimants wishing to pursue complaints in their own jurisdiction, rather than that of the potential defendants may most likely rely upon this ruling.

For further information, please contact Dominic Green on 020 7227 7411 or


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.