Embedding preview images is not copyright infringement, rules German court

BERLIN, 26 July 2018 - In a recent landmark ruling in favour of Hogan Lovells' client German Digital Library (Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), the Berlin Court of Appeal confirmed that embedding preview images via "framing", in the same way as via "simple" hyperlinks, does not amount to copyright infringement. Therefore, no technical means are required to prevent such framing.

The decision was handed down in a lawsuit between the German Digital Library and the German Collecting Society for the Visual Arts (VG Bild-Kunst).

 The Berlin Court of Appeal deemed VG Bild-Kunst's request "unreasonable" under the German Collecting Societies Act and confirmed that embedding copyright works by way of framing technology is not an act of copyright infringement. Therefore, website owners do not require digital "framing protection" in order to obtain a copyright licence.

Commenting on the outcome, Dr. Nils Rauer, partner at Hogan Lovells, said: 'We are delighted with the result for our client. International courts have repeatedly held that the person who puts infringing content online, whether that be an image, a video or a song – is the one liable. Embedding links to images is common practice and crucial to the way we communicate today, including on social media platforms. The ruling will no doubt have significant implications for other licensing agreements beyond German law and across the European Union.'

The case has meanwhile been referred to the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany's highest civil court.  

The Hogan Lovells' team on the case included Dr. Nils Rauer, Partner, and Christina Kesting, Associate, based in Frankfurt.


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