Malta: Fiasco In A Flash

The latest article by Junior Associate Sarah Cannataci relates to a judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") in the Case C-161/17 (Land Nordrhein-Westfalen vs. Renckhoff) as well as the clarifications brought on by said judgment to some important aspects of EU Law regulating the copyright and communication of works to the public.

Fiasco in a Flash

You're finishing off an important presentation or working on a school project – how many times have you Googled tirelessly and found the perfect image or photograph to bring your creation to life? Copy and pasting that photo or image onto your blog or website in one click or editing the material for your own specific purpose may be tempting, but it can easily land you in hot waters.

In a recent judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union ('CJEU') has ruled that publishing freely available content on the Internet requires the authorisation of the author of such content.

Case C- 161/17, in the names of Land Nordrhein – Westfalen v. Dirk Renckhoff, nicknamed the 'Cόrdoba Copyright Case', centered around the fact that in early 2009, a student at the Waltrop Secondary School ('Gesamtschule Waltrop') in Germany downloaded a photo of the city of Cόrdoba he found online to include as part of a presentation that was then uploaded to the school website and thus made accessible to the public.

The Cόrdoba photo however, was the intellectual creation of Dirk Renckhoff, the photographer, who had granted an exclusive right of use to the operators of the online travel portal from which the student had downloaded the photo. He sued the city of Waltrop and North Rhine-Westphalia, claiming that such downloading and positing of the photograph on the school website constituted an infringement of his copyright, the right to make copies and his right to make the creation available to the public.

Replying to a request for a preliminary ruling from the German Federal Court of Justice ('Bundesgerichtshof'), the CJEU undertook an in-depth analysis of the concept of 'communication to the public' in accordance with the provisions of InfoSoc Directive (Directive 2001/29), highlighting firstly that, subject to any exceptions and limitations laid down by Member States, any use of an intellectual creation by a third party without the authors' authorisation constitutes an infringement of copyright.

As established in past cases, such as C – 610/15 Stichting Brein, this concept of 'communication to the public' finds its basis in the 'act of communication' of a work and the communication of that work to the 'public'. Moreover, the CJEU stipulated that the work must be "communicated using specific technical means, different from those previously used, or failing that, to a 'new public', that is to say, to a public that was not already taken into account by the copyright holders when they authorised the initial communication to the public of their work".

The Court here distinguished between the communication to the public via posting of a work on a website and the communication of a work through the use of hyperlinks that lead users through websites to the website where the work was originally communicated without restriction and with the copyright holder's consent. This distinction is especially clear in the fact that in the former, the exercise of the author's rights, such as to cease the communication or claim rewards, would be made impossible or at least much more difficult than in the latter example.

The CJEU's decision was that a 'communication to the public' includes the posting of a photograph on a website which had been previously published on another website with the consent of the copyright holder, even if without any restrictions preventing it from being downloaded. This gives authors, such as artists, publishers and broadcasters, amongst others, the opportunity to assert their rights in an unprecedented manner. This judgment will undoubtedly lead to an influx of litigation as authors of intellectual works seek to stop infringement of the copyright in their works as well as to claim revenue due for the unauthorised use of their works.

Maltese laws are in line with EU Directives on this subject. Thus, a photograph in Malta would be covered by copyright as an 'artistic work' under Chapter 415 of the Laws of Malta. Provided that the work in question satisfies the criteria of originality, qualification and fixation, Maltese law stipulates that copyright is granted automatically, without the specific need for registration of the same work. This latter point may prove to be slightly problematic in the proper implementation of the principles related to communication to the public arising from the Cordoba Copyright decision, in that, when faced with potential infringement by third parties who claim that the creation or similar work is theirs, and not the original author, date of creation of the artistic work might be unclear where the work in question have not been formalised to fix 'the date' when the artistic work was created.

Otherwise, in Malta too, the Cordoba decision stands, meaning that all uses of work found freely on the Internet must first be checked and the author's consent (if required) must be sought and obtained, so hold off pressing CTRL + V so quickly!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions