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LG Cologne on the liability of hotel images on booking platforms

The Regional Court of Cologne recently issued an exciting ruling on the question of a hotelier’s liability if he posts a photo of a room on a booking platform and if a copyrighted floral wallpaper can be seen in this photo.

According to the court, the photo of the hotel room, which (among other things) depicted the photo wallpaper, is a pure reproduction according to the German Copyright Act. § 16 para. 1 UrhG of the photograph or photographic work visible on the wallpaper. The use of this photograph on Internet booking platforms then constitutes public disclosure pursuant to Section 19a UrhG. However, in the absence of a contractual agreement, the mere purchase of the photo wallpaper (which leads to copyright exhaustion with regard to the use of the same in the hotel room) does not in principle contain a (possibly implied) license for the reproduction of the photo wallpaper in the form of a photograph, nor for making it available to the public. According to the concept of transfer of purpose, only the necessary rights of use are granted upon purchase, which in the present case would not include the rights to reproduce and make available to the public on the Internet.

In the case in dispute, the photo wallpaper is not only an insignificant accessory pursuant to Art. § Section 57 UrhG, if it is a central element in the room design and is placed prominently on the rear wall. So hoteliers can quickly fall into expensive traps here, since a “normal thinking” person would probably not have thought of this problem. There are similar problems in other cases, for example, in the case of photos of business premises, on the walls of which hang well-known, copyrighted, photos, which are then clearly visible in the photos of the premises.

The court on this:

The judgment can be found here(Landgericht Köln, 14 O 350/21 ( I prefer not to use the pictures here on the blog 😉

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Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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