The plaintiff is a well-known actor and presenter. The defendant reported in the "Bild" newspaper published by it under the headline "Here Karsten Speck saunters into freedom" that the plaintiff, who had been sentenced to 2 years 10 months imprisonment, had already left the prison for one day two weeks after entering prison. He had proven himself suitable to serve the sentence in open prison. The article is illustrated with two photos showing the plaintiff walking on the street and getting into a car, which were taken in the situation described. The plaintiff seeks an injunction against the republication of the photographs.
The Regional Court upheld the action. On appeal by the defendant, the Kammergericht dismissed the action because the photos were portraits from the area of contemporary history and the justified interests of the plaintiff were not violated by the print.
The VI. Civil Senate of the Federal Court of Justice, which is responsible for press law (in this case: the right to one's own image). The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH), which is responsible for press law (in this case: the right to one's own image), upheld this judgement. It was true that the publication of the pictures represented a considerable encroachment on the plaintiff's right of personality, as his misconduct had once again been made public. However, as a result of the necessary balancing of the plaintiff's rights and the defendant's freedom of the press, the plaintiff's right of personality had to take a back seat. The public's interest in information, which was protected by the freedom of the press, appeared to be more important. The article, the content of which was not objected to by the plaintiff, raised in particular the question of whether the plaintiff, as a celebrity, received preferential treatment in prison; here, the press performed its important function as a "public watchdog". There was no legitimate interest on the part of the plaintiff to prevent the photos from being printed. The publication had not impaired the plaintiff's resocialisation, he had not been unreasonably harassed by the taking of the pictures.
Judgment of the Federal Supreme Court of 28 October 2008 - VI ZR 307/07
Previous instances: LG Berlin - 27 O 1035/06 - Decision of 23.1.2007 Kammergericht Berlin - 9 U 21/07 - Decision of 4.12.2007
Source: Press release of the press office of the Federal Supreme Court (BGH) No. 198/2008 of 28.10.2008
© Goldberg Attorneys at Law, Wuppertal-Solingen 2008
Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M.(Information Law)