Damages for Illegal Printing of Press Photos in a Newspaper

Read about damages for printing press photos in a daily newspaper.

The complaining photographer sold a bunch of pictures to a daily newspaper. Forty-three of these photos were sold to a second newspaper without his permission. Therefore, both papers were successfully sued to pay damages. However, the complainant demanded more than awarded by the papers out-of-court.

These cases were dismissed in the first and second instance but awarded in the third instance at the Federal Court of Justice (judgments of October 6, 2005, re I ZR 266/02 and I ZR 267/02).

The newspapers argued that the MFM recommendations are not only to be considered but also the fact that both papers had agreed upon a collective contract upon essential parts of newspapers. The used pictures were part of that agreement. Remuneration was to be fixed as is usual and reasonable in accordance with the total distribution of both papers. The recommendations of MFM (Mittelstandsgemeinschaft Fotomarketing = MFM) were only statements of an association on behalf of photographers.

The Federal Court of Justice held that the remuneration be rated after considering all the facts of a case. Neglected facts in this case were that the papers had a collective agreement on the news to be published, MFM recommendations were not binding for the public but only suggestions; the papers were published simultaneously in the same region.

This judgment shows that recommendations of interests by associations are surely everything else but negligible but also not binding. In the individual case, only relying on the MFM recommendations can lead to unfair pricing.

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