Consent can be withdrawn. That is the founding principle of a ruling made by Germany’s top court in relation to intimate photographs taken between couples that have gone their separate ways, DW reports.
The ruling, published on Monday 22nd December 2015 by The Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) was brought forth by a female plaintiff who had been photographed naked both before and after sexual intercourse by her lover; a professional photographer. The images in question were explicit in consent the time of taking and were “indisputably made for private use and not for publication or dissemination.” However the photographer has now been ordered to destroy all copies.
“The consent of the plaintiff to create the photos in question does not rule out withdrawing that consent in the future,” the court ruling said. Nor did the man’s job give him the right to keep the pictures – since they were taken in the context of a personal relationship, the BGH said that deleting the pictures neither infringed on his artistic freedom or his freedom to carry out his profession. “Artistic freedom is not guaranteed without boundaries either,” the ruling added.
Failure to comply with the courts ruling can lead to imprisonment for up to two years for the photographer. However he wasn’t ordered to delete every photograph he’d taken of his ex. Despite the plaintiff requesting all images containing her likeness be removed, settings which include no nudity are fair game for the photographer. Her Selfies intended for him and his artistic shots are ordered destroyed.
Photos that show the plaintiff clothed in an everyday or holiday situation are a tangent to general personal rights, and are less … damaging to the reputation of the plaintiff for third parties,”
This is a clear win for revenge porn victims who have had their lives ruined or been humiliated by the actions of selfish ex-partners, especially in the present where more and more cases like this are being brought forward.
Phogotraphy questions the possible restriction to artistic freedom, and despite being sympathetic to victims we wonder where the line of deletion lies if consent is ever withdrawn.
Does deletion of an image require the destruction or low level formatting of the hard drive it is stored on? How would this work in instances where the file is uploaded to the cloud?
How would this law judge an image that has been significantly altered from the original however used the nude image of a complainant as the base?
If an image has been shared via a social media site (private messaging), what added steps must be made to have these photographs removed?
Does a likeness have to include the individuals face or defining body features? And what constitutes “intimate” body parts? Feet?
Digital photography and the Internet has exacerbated the scourge of the scourned readers’ wives and policing this new law will hopefully be easier than the obvious flaws it throws up makes it seem. No doubt the future will give further direction to revenge porn laws.