The Local Germany (13 August 2015)
Instagrammers and foodies beware: snapping pics of scrumptious snacks in Germany could leave you facing a lawsuit for copyright infringement by the chef, a lawyer has warned.
#FoodPorn is a widely recognized tag on social media for ridiculously mouth-watering food images – but according to a report by Die Welt, food bloggers across Germany could find themselves up against the law when they photograph and upload their meals.
A 2013 Federal Court of Justice ruling expanded copyright protections to apply to elaborately arranged food, making it the artistic property of its creator. That means that anyone wanting to post a pic of the work of culinary art may have to ask permission first.
“An elaborately arranged dish in a restaurant can be a copyright-protected work,” explained Dr. Niklas Haberkamm, partner at corporate law firm Lampmann, Haberkamm & Rosenbaum (LHR) to Welt.
“In such a case, the creator of the work has the right to decide where and to what extent the work can be reproduced,” he said.
The aim of copyright is to protect an individual creation. And it doesn’t matter whether the action – for example; reproduction, propagation, or making an image publicly available – is intended for commercial use or not, reports Welt.
German legal services website Anwalt.de wrote in a post about food porn on Thursday that whether a meal is considered art depends on the advanced level of the meal’s design, so snapping a selfie with your French fries from a food stand is not going to be the problem – it’s when you go to more refined, world-rated establishments.
Until now, no case has actually been recorded of a chef or restaurateur filing a complaint for infringement of copyright. But it could well happen sooner or later, reports Welt.
Anwalt.de suggests being cautious.
“If you want to be absolutely on the safe side, you should probably ask the host or the chef,” the legal website wrote.
Yet even when no artistic infringement is involved, food porn can cause a whole host of problems – for example, if the proprietor has explicitly banned photography in the restaurant.
A few years ago, a restaurant in Germany provoked uproar when it plastered signs around its interior telling customers: “Please do not Instagram the food in this restaurant!”
“Even if no copyright infringement has occurred, the restaurant owner is legally allowed, by householder’s rights, to forbid customers taking photos of food,” Haberkamm explained.
So if the photographic urge strikes during a visit to a Michelin-starred eatery, give it a moment’s thought: you could be biting off more than you can chew.