In a legal battle with a renowned hotel in Leipzig, Copytrack has been able to reach a settlement for a Berlin-based photographer in the amount of € 25,000 – a substantial victory! The hotel is part of an international hotel chain and, in Copytrack’s view, it used numerous images that belong to a photographer without having previously obtained the proper rights. The hotel also distributed the images to third parties to be used for advertising purposes.
The Facts of the Case
In July 2012, the manager of a Leipzig hotel commissioned a Berlin-based photographer to take photographs of the hotel in Leipzig for the cover notebooks that were to be given to guests.
The photographer completed his assignment as per the hotel’s request. A few weeks later he provided the hotel with 15 of his photographs as part of the selection process – particularly noteworthy were several excellent twilight shots. The hotel approved the photos, but no further usage beyond the scope of the printed notebooks was agreed upon. The photographer invoiced the hotel for his services and the assignment should have ended like any other one.
Soon, however, the photographer discovered with the help of the Copytrack Reverse Image Search that his photos were being used in a manner that was not agreed upon: The hotel posted the photos to its own website without the necessary exploitation rights. Moreover, it also distributed the pictures to at least 31 partners and hotel reservation portals.
In total, Copytrack identified 87 cases in which the images were used on the internet illegally. For the photographer and Copytrack, the matter was quickly evident: The hotel clearly acted with disregard for copyright law!
The Legal Enforcement
Copytrack accepted the case and informed the hotel operator of the infringement, primarily by confronting the hotel with the evidence that had been collected. The hotel admitted via its lawyer that it had made the images available to its contractual partners for advertising purposes.
Copytrack worked with the hotel to find a comprehensive, fair solution to settle the matter out of court. These efforts were unsuccessful, however, because the hotel and Copytrack were unable to come to an agreement on the amount of the settlement. Therefore, Copytrack brought the case before the responsible Regional Court of Hamburg.
Copytrack brought an action before the Regional Court of Hamburg for the payment of damages arising from the extensive, illicit use of the images. Moreover, Copytrack requested information about the extent to which the hotel had made the work of Copytrack’s customer available to third parties or had itself used the images.
Due to the looming lawsuit, the hotel again became interested in settlement negotiations. Previously, the hotel had in pre-trial negotiations offered to pay the amount of € 7,500. But due to the large number of infringements over a long period of time, Copytrack rejected this offer.
Ultimately the parties agreed to the payment of the sum of € 25,000 for the unauthorized use and distribution of multiple photographs. The settlement does not permit any future usage of the images.
Written by John Peacock