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Eversheds Attorneys Ltd. successfully represented a well-known Finnish athlete against two media companies in disputes concerning Instagram photos

  • Finland


    Eversheds Attorneys Ltd. successfully represented a world-famous Finnish athlete before the Market Court against Alma Media Suomi Oy and Sanoma Media Finland Oy in cases concerning photograph rights.

    The disputes concerned photos published by the athlete on his Instagram account. The tabloids Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat had taken a screenshot of the photo and published it in their online papers without the athlete’s permission.

    The media companies argued that copying the photo was permitted on the basis of the press’s quotation right when reporting on current events. They also claimed that quoting was permitted under the ‘general quotation right’, and that it was not a question of ‘communication to a new public’.

    The Market Court confirmed that the media companies had infringed the athlete's rights to the photo. The Market Court found in its decision that the limiting provisions of the Finnish Copyright Act did not permit the use of the athlete’s photo without his permission. Thus, taking a screenshot constituted making a copy of the photograph and the publication of such screenshot constituted making the copy available to the public, both of which fall within the scope of the rightholder’s exclusive right under the Copyright Act.

    The decisions were legally significant since a question like this has never before been brought before a court in Finland. This was therefore the first time when a Finnish court addressed the press’s quotation right, the definition of a ‘current event’, photo citation and communication of a work to a new public. The decisions are interesting even from a European perspective, and they strengthen the rights of the holders of copyrights and photograph rights. The decisions are not only significant with respect to other public figures and, for example, Instagram influencers but also the future conduct of the media since they from now on will have to take the copyrights and photograph rights of celebrities into account when reporting on the celebrities.

    For more information about the case, please see our article here.

    This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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