Malta Civil Court: Photographs online are still protected by co

Administration Team | Published on 25 Nov 2011

Chetcuti Cauchi

In a Civil Court decision, Camilleri Roland Et Vs Grima Noel Noe, 20 October 2011, a newspaper in Malta was ordered to pay €1,200 in damages for publishing photos without authorisation of the copyright owner.

In this case, these photographers with interest in aviation had their works protected by copyright. These works could be accessed via a number of internet sites. The newspaper in question, on two occasions, published photos taken by them and in another instance, published a photo on the internet portal owned and managed by the newspaper in questions.

The applicants argued that the publication of their works had been carried out without their consent and without any compensation and asked the court to find that their copyright had been violated and to award them compensation.

Despite the defence arguing that the photos had been downloaded from websites and were therefore in the public domain, the Court ruled that the fact that the photos could be accessed on a public website did not lessen their copyright in their works. Using works of art as a case in point, it was argued that if the argument of the defence had to be accepted, works of art such as paintings or sculptures exhibited in public places were not covered by copyright.

The Malta Court therefore dismissed the editor’s pleas and ordered him to pay €400 to each of the photographers.

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