Recht am eigene bild (Right to your own image) - German/Swiss law question

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Slaphead, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Slaphead

    Slaphead TPF Noob!

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    From what I understand the swiss law is quite similar to the german law on this - There are differences, but I believe the law is generally very similar.

    Now I've been reading some PDF's about this but unfortunately german legalese is where my german is failing me (I can hold a conversation, read the newspaper, I work in a german speaking company, and can generally more than just get by. However, It's not perfect by a long way). So, I wonder If some of our german members can help me out by bullet pointing the most important aspects of this law - preferably in english.

    The main question I have is within the law to take candids of random people and display them here and/or use them within a photographic exhibition?

    Also, does anybody have an example of a model release form in German?

    By the way my mother tongue is english.

    Cheers
     
  2. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well, I draw up releases as the occasion comes up but don't have readymade ones.
    Whenever I photograph people, even randomly, it usually is on commission for someone (sport events), and everyone's being informed that Photographer XY is there to take photos, and that those photos will be shown online or can also appear in the newspaper. As long as no one expressly protests, it is assumed that they're ok with their photo being shown. The same applies to the dance school photos I take - though for those I usually draw up release texts that clearly state WHERE the photos will be shown (inside the school as wall displays, online, on a school leaflet, in the performance programmes, maybe in the newspaper), so I could not go make my own exhibition out of those.

    As to random photos of people you saw in the street and photographed, things may become problematic here in Germany, and supposedly in Switzerland, too. For the Right to One's Own Picture says (as part of a person's Personality Rights) that nobody's image may be made public without his consent (note the fine line here: you may well TAKE it! No one can blame you for PHOTOGRAPHING the person, only must you not DISPLAY it). This does not only mean "make public in order to make money out of the image" (i.e. use the photo for commercial reasons), but it really means "make public" as is. If you were to be totally, extremely strict about that part of the Right to One's Own Picture, you would not even be allowed to show said photo to your husband/wife/mother/father etc., but then who's there to control that???

    So yes, given that aspect of the Right to One's Own Picture you cannot set up a photographic exhibition and put random people's photos on display. You would need to get their "release" (it's enough for them to nod consent, really) first. This is what it says.

    Unless, of course, they are "Persons of Public Interest", starting with local politicians and reaching up to royalty and film or pop stars and all inbetween. Their Personality Rights are diminished by their state. Their photos CAN be shown in public.

    And then there is that exception to the rule: when you photograph a "Schützenfest", for example, or any other kind of public festivity, and people get into your photos, you can show those photos.

    I myself am fairly strict with myself as to this Right to One's Own Picture, though I have put "Summer in the City" photos with very random people who I saw in Berlin up into this forum (thus made public photos of total strangers who, of course, had NOT given me any release, neither before, nor after I had taken their photo), so sometimes I am NOT so strict with myself, after all...

    When it should come to a trial over a person's photo made public without their consent, said person would need to be able to prove in how far the fact their image was made public did them harm in any manner.

    Many years ago, the image of my then boyfriend appeared (portraitlike, only his face) in a TV documentation on jobless people. He was quite startled to see himself put into such connection (he was working in a good job), and to realise that his photo was used by no one less than the ZDF (one of our German Public Channels) without anyone EVER approaching him to even let him KNOW he had been filmed, let alone ask him for consent to add his image to the documentation. But he did not stand a chance for anything like a recompensation or so (for what else could he ask for: his picture HAD already been broadcast), since he did not suffer any harm from it.
     
  3. Slaphead

    Slaphead TPF Noob!

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    So, for the purposes of this forum, although I'm probably on the wrong side of the law, the chances are that it'll be unlikely that I'll receive any comeback on this.

    Reasons being:

    1) Although the forum is public, with the extent and use of the forum, the photo would not be considered to be widely published compared to say TV or newspaper.

    2) No photo that I post would misrepresent the person, i.e your example of your former boyfriend, or could be placed in any other context other than as just a photo.

    But to obtain some sort of permission would certainly be advantageous.

    It would be shame to have to give up on candids.
     
  4. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Too true, which is why also I sometimes decide for myself that hardly anyone inside Germany (apart from only a few) is going to look at photos put on display in TPF, this being an English-speaking forum, so what harm can be done? I did not ask that drug dealing gang in Queens if they were happy with being shown on TPF, either, and they have never contacted me to shout "Hey, what does my photo do out there?" ;)
     

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