Keywords: BGH, Germany, Revenge Porn

On 13 October 2015, the German Federal Court of Justice (VI ZR 271/14) ruled that ex-partners can demand the deletion of intimate or revealing photographs and videos once their relationship is over. In the case concerned, a man, a professional photographer, had taken several erotic photos and videos of his female partner, to which she had consented at the time. After their relationship had ended, the woman demanded the deletion of all intimate media, which the man refused. According to the ruling, the pictures and videos showed the woman naked both during and after sexual intercourse. She had also taken some of the pictures herself.

The Court ruled that even though the woman had consented to the pictures being taken at the time, and that the man had to date shown no intention of reproducing the pictures or putting them online, her ex-partner still did not have the right to keep copies of those pictures. Most notably, the Court held that the woman's consent to create the photos in question does not rule out withdrawing that consent in the future because intimate photographs were related to the core of her personality right ("intimate sphere") as protected by the German Basic Law under Articles 1(1) and 2(1). The protection afforded to the intimate sphere outweighed any copyright protection or other professional or artistic freedoms afforded to her ex-partner photographer.

The Federal Court of Justice, however, denied the woman's request to force her then boyfriend to delete other photographs taken of her. In relation to everyday type or holiday photographs, the Court could not see a personality right infringement, since the woman's reputation would not be lowered in the view of third parties in case such photographs were to be made public.

Originally published January 14, 2016

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