How may I use a photo?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – on the internet these days, content is constantly being posted and shared…and photos are often used without permission. Please be aware that nowadays, it’s just as easy to infringe copyright as it is to post and share photos on these platforms.


The Copyright Act protects all photographs and illustrations depicting physical three-dimensional objects which were produced by means similar to photography and by human beings. Protection applies irrespective of whether the photos have individual character or not. Both photos by professional photographers and the general public are protected. For example, everyday family and holiday snaps as well as press and product photos.


Photographs without individual character have been protected by copyright since the revised Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. If a photograph without individual character was used without the photographer’s permission before the revision, it can still continue to be used today. There is no need to request permission retrospectively. This also applies to the use of photographs without individual character on a website. However, if the same photograph is used somewhere else after the revision came into force, you must obtain the photographer’s permission.


Whoever wishes to use other peoples’ photos must always request the permission of the photographer, as long as the copyright protection has not expired. For photographs with individual character, the term of protection ends 70 years after the death of the photographer. Photographs without individual character are protected for 50 years from when they are created.


There is an exception for using photos owned by others on the internet: as long as, from a technical point of view, the use features a link that is dependent on the original content, the photographer’s permission is not required. This is the case, for example, if a photo that is already on Facebook is shared by another user. But, if you share someone else’s Instagram photo, the content has technically been re-uploaded. Re-uploading does not include a link and the permission of the photographer is required in all cases.


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