You are relaxing and just scrolling through the feed and you suddenly see a picture of yourself. And not a particularly favorable one. One derisive comment after another. But how did the image get there? More importantly: how can you get rid of it? We explain what rights people have online – and how you can enforce them.
The right to your own image: first ask and then post
Have you already checked Instagram today? Then let’s take a look. At the end of the day, you want to know what’s going on with my friends and favorite influencers. Look, here’s a vacation photo, a picture of yesterday’s lunch, and here another image of...you. But you definitely didn’t post that picture. And the person responsible for the post is an unknown user. How is that possible? And: Is that allowed? Are you allowed to simply post pictures of other people online?
The clear answer is no. Unless you have their permission to do so. If that isn’t that case, you are violating the person’s right to privacy – or, more accurately, the right to one's own image. One of the laws regulating this situation is § 22 of the Kunsturhebergesetz (German law regulating art and copyright questions). It states that images can only be distributed or published with the permission of the depicted person. An exception to this rule is images where you are part of a crowd, i.e., concerts and festivals
And what happens now? If an image in which you can be seen is published without permission on social media or online, you can, in accordance with § 37 of the Kunsturhebergesetz, demand that the operator of the site deletes the image. The best way to do so is by writing to the email address contained in the imprint. This process is even easier with Instagram. There is a contact form for such cases.
Copyright: Protecting works
The new YouTube clip for your own channel is finally finished. Now is the time to put some music to the introduction and then upload it. But wait a minute, isn’t there something that needs to be taken into consideration? Yes, copyright law.
According to § 2 of the Copyright Act (Urheberrechtsgesetz), all literary, scientific, and artistic works are protected. This applies to photos, videos, poems, and music. There are also works such as legal texts that are not protected by copyright. Artists can also make their works available free of charge. In certain situations that are stipulated by the artist (e.g., stating the name of the piece of work in question and artists), such works can be used without obtaining rights in advance. More information on free works is available online at iRights.
In order to use a copyrighted song in a YouTube video, you must apply for the rights in advance. The German Society for Musical Performing Rights and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) is responsible for this. Here you can register online to license the rights for a fee. Among other things, the fees depend on the type of use and the number of views. Once you have completed this step, you can refine your YouTube video without any legal worries.
Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks: Stopping hate
Some of us will also have encountered this online before: Hate comments. Counterspeech is a good way to react. Another option is the Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks.
§ 3 of this act stipulates that providers of social networks must erase or block any illegal content within 24 hours of such content becoming known. For instance, this applies in the event of instructions on how to commit serious crimes, incitement to hatred, or the publication of forbidden symbols. A list of crimes that are also covered by the Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks can be viewed here.
The post must be reported in order to make use of the Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks and to arrange for such a contribution to be blocked or erased. This can be done with the police, on special platforms such as hassmelden.de, or by contacting the providers of the respective sites directly. The majority of social platforms offer separate forms or buttons to do this. For example, here you can see how this can be done on Facebook. Just a little click for every individual but an important contribution in the #NOHATESPEECH campaign.
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