EU court judgment means photographers can bring copyright cases in UK courts for breaches overseas

Some good news for photographers: a new ruling means they can sue for copyright breaches in the UK courts when their images have been used in another EU country.

In the past, copyright cases had to be brought in the country where the images were published, under legislation called the Brussels Regulation. 

However, the General Court of the European Union (CJEU) took a different approach in a case involving an Austrian photographer, Ms Pez Hejduk.

Ms Hejduk claimed a German companyEnergieAgentur, used her images on their website without consent. However she surprisingly initiated proceedings in an Austrian court.

The company claimed she should have brought the action in Germany.

They said their website was not aimed at the Austrian market, and that the fact the images could be accessed in Austria did not mean the case should be heard there.

However the CJEU said that damage had occurred in Austria because Ms Hejduk’s photographs were accessible online there and her copyright was protected by Austrian law. However, it said the Austrian court could only award damages arising from infringements that occurred in Austria. See the ruling

The ruling may help photographers and publishers whose images are published on sites in other EU countries. It means they can start an action the UK, which will certainly be simpler – and might save them the cost of an air fare.

Cleland Thom is a consultant and trainer in media law


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