One interesting point about Germany: It’s been said they have some of the world’s most strict laws protecting the individual’s privacy. Some say these regulations go too far and limit “normal” use of photos taken in public places. All we know is, (he’s called the Stig) you should be careful how you use your Germany photos.
Just so you’re aware, here are some discussions I’ve found (in English) giving details about the restrictions. If you plan to put any photos online in a public place, you should follow these to avoid someone contacting you to ask, “Please take my photo down!” Note that I couldn’t find anything in German that I was able to understand, and I suspect the official legal documents are even unreadable to a native speaker.
Photo.net – Photography in Germany (go to the “People” section under “Responses”)
Street Photography Watercooler article (more specific to shots of single persons)
From what I interpret:
- It’s not illegal to take pictures of people. Only to publish those pictures without their consent. (but on this item I am not clear!)
- Publishing single-person zoom shots on sites like Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa is a violation of the subject’s privacy.
- Shooting “single persons” is worse than shooting people who happen to be in a scene; the above Altes Rathaus shot is an example of a scene. I could never photograph or reproduce it without having at least a few people in there. Therefore my personal decision is, blur out the people who happen to be recognizable in the scene.
- Exceptions where you are allowed to publish: a public figure (in a non-embarrassing pose); people who cannot be recognized (e.g. spectators at a sporting event). My personal decision is that public performers (e.g. Eisbach surfers and street performers) are placing themselves as a public figure. Of course I also only display nice photos of them, anyway.
- You may not make suggestions about or by the people in the photos, for example a caption under the waving politician saying “I endorse Pampers baby diapers!”
So, to make it short: be careful what you do with pictures of people taken in Germany. Honestly, chances are no one will complain and ask you to take them down. But there is a small risk of a “cease-and-desist” order or court action! If you do publish pictures with recognizable people, make sure you don’t put up anything embarrassing that could lead to a big lawsuit.
The Fine Print: this advice is not to be taken as legal, professional, or official advice. I make no guarantees or promises about its validity.
If anyone has some further links to more concrete advice (in an understandable format), I’ll be happy to add them here!
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