A Year in Review: Social Media Rights

Nazi photos, Football star Benatia's pay slip and goat comments caused quite a stir last year – on social media and law offices. In MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin's review of the last year, Thorsten Feldmann and Henning Krieg examined the most topical misunderstandings and innovations with humour and the Bullshit-Bingo.



Here are seven highlights:
1. Nazi photos – getting fines years later
Those posting photos online have to consider copyright (“has the photographer given permission?)” and personal rights (“is the person OK with being shown?)”. If either of the two are flouted, then the picture can no longer be used. This also includes those pictures already in digital circulation. One Twitter user had a bad experience after tweeting an infamous photo of the 2012 Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots, depicting a man with wet pants showing the Nazi salute. Three years later, the user was fined 128 Euro – his original tweet was only seen by 23 people.

2. #foodporn – don't be scared of sushi
An article from Welt newspapers from August 2015 caused some irritation. It stated that taking pictures of food might soon be punished by fines because carefully and artistically arranged meals are equally protected by copyright as a sculpture or statue. “This is clearly just panic marketing at its finest” explains Thorsten Feldmann and doesn't recall any cases where this has been enforced. Hennig Krieg added, “Beware of screenshots from videos, beware of artists' copyright, but don't be scared of sushi.”

3. Copyright-notification-generator – a tool for photo credits
If and how to use other peoples' photos is explained by the rather cumbersome named “Lizenzhinweisgenerator” (copyright-notification-generator) online tool. Simply copy the link to a Wikimedia image into the tool and it will immediately show the name of the photographer, if they want to be named and if a link to the original image needs to be included. Those who don't properly cite can be fined up to 8000 Euro.

4. Rabaukenjäger – a curious verdict
Last November, the Nordkurier newspaper reported on strange court verdict. After taking a deer in 2014, the hunter had tied the carcass to the trailer hitch of his vehicle and dragged it back home. A journalist wrote about it and described the hunter as a “Rabaukenjäger”. In response, the local courts classified the comment as highly offensive and sentenced the journalist to a 1000 Euro fine. “A classic legal error”, commented Henning Krieg.

5. That Thing About the Goats – context is important
Whether Böhmermann's comments about Erdogan were satire or simply insulting was intensely discussed on stage and with the audience. “Both interpretations are valid”, comments Thorsten Feldmann. The audience went back and forth until finally 1/5 agreed that the comments were illegal and insulting, while the rest regarded it as satire. “Context is important”, said Feldmann “and must be assessed almost a week prior to the original broadcast”.

6. Xavier Naidoo – why embarrassing video clips can have legal consequences
Two viral videos were the source of much amusement over the past months. One showing Xavier Naidoo lost for words when questioned about his candidacy for the European Song Contest, the other showing women in near hysterics at the sight of RTL's Bachelor. Both clips showed the people in them in a rather embarrassing light but they were all correctly cited. The copyright is also with the broadcaster, not the personal caught on film or the platform hosting the video. The initially successful strike from YouTube by Naidoo was subsequently judged as illegal and the strike was eventually lifted.

7. Benatia's Payslip – a case for the cops
In early 2016, a person got into huge trouble for taking a photo of the football star Mehdi Benatia's payslip without permission and spreading it on Whatsapp. Players' salaries are strictly confidential in Germany. Legal though, the more serious aspect of the case was not the leaking of Benatia's salary but the fact that the image showed personal information on it too. It features the player's private address, tax ID number and bank account details. Rule of thumb: Whatsapp is a public medium. “Public is anything that includes more than two people that don't engage in hight social interactions”, explains Thorsten Feldmann.

Foto: MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin/Uwe Völkner