German school sued in photo copyright row

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Students crowd a computerImage source, Getty Images

The EU's top court has ruled that a German school violated a photographer's copyright when a student project containing one of his pictures was published on its website.

A pupil at the school had found the photograph on a travel website.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said it was "of little importance" there was nothing to stop a download.

It ruled the school needed permission from the photographer, in a ruling which could lead to similar cases.

Photographer Dirk Renckhoff claimed that he had given exclusive rights to the travel website Reisemagazin Schwarzaufweiss to use his photograph, which featured the Spanish city of Cordoba.

He sued the western German state of Land North Rhein-Westphalia, where the school is based, for €400 (£360).

The ECJ ruling focused on whether including the image on the school's website constituted sharing it with a "new public".

It said Mr Renckhoff had only granted permission to users of the travel website to see his photograph.

The court also said that using hyperlinks to direct users back to the original image on the travel site would have been permissible.

Before it reached the ECJ, a Hamburg regional court ruled that the photograph needed to be removed from the school website with the state having to pay €300 plus interest.

Both parties appealed against that decision and a federal court then passed the case on to the ECJ.