Taking a quick snapshot of your meal at restaurants has become a widespread pre-meal ritual in recent years. People often like to keep a memento of the food they eat, and perhaps share that image with others online as well.
But if you’re a foodie blogger and/or photographer in Germany, you might want to think twice the next time you pull out your camera: your simple photo could constitute copyright infringement.
German newspaper Die Welt reports that in 2013, the Federal Court of Justice expanded copyright protections to include elaborately arranged food, making the appearance of fancy dishes artistic intellectual property owned by the chef.
“An elaborately arranged dish in a restaurant can be a copyright-protected work,” lawyer Dr. Niklas Haberkamm tells the paper. “In such a case, the creator of the work has the right to decide where and to what extent the work can be reproduced.”
German website Antwalt.de writes that whether or not a dish is protected under copyright law depends on how advanced and artistic the design of the food is — foods that are churned out in bulk (e.g. fast food orders) won’t give you any issues, but distinctive dishes at high-end restaurants may be copyrighted.
There haven’t been any cases of this law actually leading to a copyright infringement lawsuit, Die Welt says, but if a chef or restaurant did decide to pursue a food photographer, you could be forced to pay hundreds or thousands of euros.
At the very least, the law gives haute cuisine restaurants the ability to flex their muscles if they choose to implement and enforce a “no photography” policy at their establishments, so it’s something you should be aware of.
Image credits: Photographs by PortoBay Events