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Photographer Sues Woman Over Her 90-Year-Old Grandmother's Wallpaper

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by a photographer against a woman who posted an image of her grandmother's apartment featuring the photographer's photo-based wallpaper on a vacation property rental website.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

1. What is the basis of the photographer's copyright infringement lawsuit?

  • The photographer, Stefan Böhme, alleges that while he may have authorized the printing of his photo on the wallpaper, he did not authorize the "reproduction" of the photo on the wall in the image posted by the landlady on the vacation property rental website.
  • Böhme claims that the "making available" of the photo of the wall is an infringement of copyright law.
  • Böhme is also alleging that the grandmother infringed his moral rights because she did not credit him as the photographer behind the wallpaper on the property rental website.

2. What is the outcome of Böhme's previous lawsuits on similar cases?

  • Böhme previously tried to sue the granddaughter in the courts in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart in Germany, but was unsuccessful.
  • The Regional Court and Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf ruled that Böhme had implicitly granted a license by selling the wallpaper, and that his lawsuits were an abuse of rights.
  • However, Böhme previously won a similar copyright case regarding an image with his photo-based wallpaper at Cologne Regional Court last year, also against a landlady of a vacation apartment.

3. What is the Cologne Regional Court's stance on copyright in this case?

  • The Cologne Regional Court says that a strict duty of care applies, and that "anyone who makes use of other people's photographs by publishing them on their website must ensure that this is done with the permission of the authorized person."

[02] Background

1. How did the grandmother's apartment end up being rented out as a vacation property?

  • In 2012, the grandmother renovated her apartment and legally purchased a photo-based wallpaper that included images taken by photographer Stefan Böhme.
  • Three years later, the then 90-year-old grandmother was no longer able to live in her apartment alone and moved in with her granddaughter.
  • The granddaughter took over the grandmother's apartment and rented it out as a vacation property to maintain the costs of caring for the elderly lady.

2. What led to the copyright infringement lawsuit?

  • The granddaughter advertised the apartment on a rental website and included photos of the property on the listing, which featured Böhme's photo-based wallpaper.
  • Eight years later, the granddaughter received a warning letter for copyright infringement from a Canadian company (Böhme's company) because she had posted an image of the room with the photo-based wallpaper.
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