The court decided that the photo is copyrighted, regardless of whether it was made for commercial or personal use.
In the US, a court ruled that media companies cannot use photos from social networks without the permission of the authors, even if the images are publicly available. It is reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
In June 2017, a snapshot of Donald Trump at a wedding held on the grounds of his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, became viral. Jonathan Otto, Vice President of the Bank of Germany, took a photo on his iPhone. He sent it to one of the guests at the wedding, who shared the image on instagram. After that, it appeared on the TMZ and CNN sites, as well as in The Washington Post and Daily Mail. Later, Otto hired lawyers and sued companies that did not pay him to use the picture.
In December 2018, the court ruled that the photo posted on the Esquire website in the article entitled “President Trump is the most unwelcome guest at the wedding,” was used illegally. Judge Gregory Woods said that using a snapshot for a news article, regardless of whether it was made for commercial or personal use, is theft.
“The author of the image should not be deprived of possible profit, even if he lacks the necessary marketing skills to monetize his work. Otto’s status as an amateur photographer with an iPhone should not limit his rights to sell his work,” explained Woods.
In summer, the European Court of Justice ruled that it was necessary to request permission from the photographer to use images from the Internet, even if the author posted the images in the public domain or allowed them to be published on another resource. The court made this decision after considering the case of a German photographer who accused the high school of copyright infringement.