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Image rights in social media

Legal “Sharing” has been a highly valued impulse since social behavior began. Whether you share bread and offer it to the hungry for consumption; or whether you, as a teacher, pass on the skills you have acquired to your students and thus share your knowledge, always has the social need to help and should be rewarded and encouraged. Unfortunately, however, sharing also has its downsides. On the one hand, not all help reaches the needy in full, on the other hand, not all help is perceived as real help.

Sometimes you read a good saying, for example from Karl Valentin, who passed away long ago, who is believed to be “general cultural property” and shares it with friends on social media. The explanation of this error usually follows in the form of an extremely expensive warning from the current rights holder with the obligation to sign an injunction that always provides for a contractual penalty of several thousand euros in the event of repetition. If you are forced to sign and pay, it is not unlikely that previously shared content for which you were responsible before the cease and desist declaration will be shared again by other users.

Thus, a small copyright infringement by multiplying from the contractual penalty can quickly turn into a private disaster. I once used eight postage-sized thumbnails of my master's book pages, for which I advertised on a homepage, for the sale of the book. The pictures were still on the server for years until the warning from a large picture rental company for only one picture, with a screenshot of my homepage, fluttered into the house. Several thousand euros should be transferred immediately to the rights holder if one wanted to avoid an expensive legal dispute. Of course, as a precaution, I took all the pictures off the net. My research showed that the former photographer, after the book had been published for the umpteenth time and taken from the market after many years, had ceded his rights to the photo rental (a so-called third party).

If we take one of the largest platforms such as Facebook, you always assign your exclusive image or film rights to Facebook before joining as a Facebook member. Only in this way is it possible for the operator not to commit an image or trademark infringement every time it is divided and to accept liability for you as the divider. Still, it can become a boomerang if you share something that should never have been legally shared due to the rights holder's exclusive rights. But even if you are the rights owner of a picture, it can have unpleasant and financially expensive consequences.

Loss of your exclusive rights

Basically, for you as the author or photographer, you lose your exclusive image rights by posting on Facebook and Co.! If you want to use a picture, for example, for our new Hapkido magazine, which must have exclusive rights for the duration of the publication, you may no longer use this picture or film because you have already assigned the exclusive rights to FB. Consequences that you should expect if you do so could be the following. Facebook could one day sell its capital (rights to text, images, films) to third parties in the interests of its shareholders. These third parties would thus become the new rights holder and could take recourse for the pictures of you that still appear somewhere. Even if it is your "actually" own picture.

How can you avoid losing your image rights on social media platforms?

If you share pictures or films but do not want to lose your exclusive rights, drag a link of the picture or film from your own homepage url to Facebook and Co. In this case, Facebook creates a temporary preview picture of your link, which should definitely disappear You take your picture or film from your own side. No rights have been assigned so far through this type of linking! If you need photos for various projects, such as on your homepage, on Facebook or other social media, publications about publishers, such as in our Hapkido magazine, use a separate picture for each of these opportunities that you label accordingly. A good sports camera or even newer smartphones takes several pictures of the same scene every second. Provide the corresponding images with your copyrights and only post those on social media that you never want to use elsewhere again!

Attention: This article is NOT legal advice. It only reflects our current level of knowledge, since we have dealt with it in detail due to the new provisions

Sabine Wischhöfer
Marketing und Vertrieb
Druckformherstellerin (IHK1982)
Immobilienkauffrau (IHK 1997)
Produktmanagerin (SGD 2018)
Google Zertifikat (2018)
NLP-Practitioner DVNLP (2019) 
NLP-Master, DVNLP (2019) 
Hapkidoin 4. Kup
Taekwondo 3. Kup