Photography law while not photographing

119 posts in this topic

Hello readers,

Last Saturday (4th July), I had been cleaning my DSLR camera at the kitchen table. Due to my disabling physical

condition, sometimes a very simple task takes a couple of days. After completing the cleaning, I took the camera out to 

our balcony and shot photos of the sky. I wanted a clear background to check the sensor cleanliness. I brought the camera 

in and placed it on a tripod. Put a lens cover on it, removed the battery for charging and the SD card for viewing on the computer.

The camera stayed in the dining room by the balcony door for the afternoon. Oh, btw, it was pointed toward the ground. 
Our landlord happens to own a restaurant/beer garden across the street. Two of the daughters came to my door screaming at me to stop

filming their guests. I was taken back by this...whoa. I said come in and look. The camera is off, has no battery or SD card and a lens cover.

Besides, it's not even pointing toward your property. Two hours later, the police showed up. I showed them the camera and all the details of what 

I had been doing. He told me it looked OK and left. They met the landlord below the balcony and I was listening to them talk. The police told them

the camera was off, no card and not pointing at the property.
Friday the 10th, I received a letter telling me to cease and desist my actions of filming. (The camera stayed there 7 days in the same position)

I was told it is illegal to have a visible camera, working or not to be visibly pointed at another person or property. Not only did I get threatened to be

evicted if I did not move the camera, but I was also fined 1,000 Euros and have to pay 1/3 of the attorney fees. Well, needless to say, I contacted our

two insurance companies to get covered for attorney fees. Today, both insurance companies denied our claim. So, here we are. We have until the 25th 

to send in a signed letter and payment or face court. 
My question of you is, how is this possible when there was no intent of photographing people or property? I am quite aware of German law concerning

the photography of people or places. I have over 4,000 photos of the town and area we live in, but not ONE single photo of any person. 
What is my legal chance of putting this behind me with minimal costs? To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. It all started because I parked my car on the 

street and they claimed I was taking business from them by not allowing a customer to park. They said I intimidated and cause angst in the 

customers by having my camera where it was. Frau landlord told me she didn't even see the camera, but customers did.

HELP!!

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Is your landlord/his lawyer demanding this money from you in the cease and desist order or is it from a court/the city? It would be odd if the authorities worked that quickly, especially under corona conditions.

 

Which insurance policy did you try to claim this on? If you have Rechtschutzversicherung, they should cover your consulting an attorney to fight this. It sounds like bullshit.

 

I'm not a lawyer, however, so the above should not be construed as proper legal advice.

 

Good luck, and please post updates to let us know how this works out.

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It is the landlord's attorney asking for the money. The insurance was both Rechtschutz and Haftpflicht. The denial was because I willfully violated the law and they will not cover my uh, disobedience to protocol. Thanks for the reply. I'll post the updates and resolve as it happens. 
 

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Did they (meaning your Rechtschutzversicherung) confirm that simply having an inoperative camera on your balcony is against the law? Because I did some googling and found this list - in short, the only way you'd be violating the law is by publishing the photos online or in a print publication.

 

That's based on the Kunsturheberrechtsgesetz, however, and he might be referring to something else. Did he quote the law you're alleged to have violated?

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18 minutes ago, Ludwig13 said:

My question of you is, how is this possible when there was no intent of photographing people or property? I am quite aware of German law concerning

the photography of people or places. I have over 4,000 photos of the town and area we live in, but not ONE single photo of any person. 
What is my legal chance of putting this behind me with minimal costs? To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. It all started because I parked my car on the 

street and they claimed I was taking business from them by not allowing a customer to park. They said I intimidated and cause angst in the 

customers by having my camera where it was. Frau landlord told me she didn't even see the camera, but customers did.

HELP!!

It is possible because the camera was being handled and was visible. 

I don't think it is ridiculous. Some people can feel threatened. 

Our neighbour installed several security cameras (dummy, working and not working) dotted around our building, without any notice, permission, warning signs or anything. We informed the mayor and the Police in writing several times. One camera was pointing directly at our front door and recording our movements so the neighbour could work out whether we were in or not, presumably in preparation to try to break in again and/or cause further criminal damage. 

We felt violated, threatened, intimated and it caused us immense stress and anxiety, so sorry but I can understand the other side's point of view here, I really can.

 

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17 minutes ago, Ludwig13 said:

I was told it is illegal to have a visible camera, working or not to be visibly pointed at another person or property.

 

This seems to be true.  For example dummy security cameras are not allowed to be point outside your property.

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Just now, El Jeffo said:

Did he quote the law you're alleged to have violated?

There was no law quoted yet. One attorney said it is very rare a threatening party will quote the law in the first letter. 

I would rather pay 1,000 to an attorney to help me than give the landlords the money. I'm just worried about court. Those costs go up and up and up.

My wife said she found online an attorney who states even an inoperative camera or anything that would resemble a camera could be misconstrued to be 'taking photos' and violates the person's right to privacy. 

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2 minutes ago, lunaCH said:

It is possible because the camera was being handled and was visible. 

I don't think it is ridiculous. Some people can feel threatened. 

Our neighbour installed several security cameras (dummy, working and not working) dotted around our building, without any notice, permission, warning signs or anything. We informed the mayor and the Police in writing several times. One camera was pointing directly at our front door and recording our movements so the neighbour could work out whether we were in or not, presumably in preparation to try to break in again and/or cause further criminal damage. 

We felt violated, threatened, intimated and it caused us immense stress and anxiety, so sorry but I can understand the other side's point of view here, I really can.

 

There is a written law that states a camera can not be directed toward a person or property whether operable or not. In my case, the camera is pointing at the GROUND. The police even looked at the angle of the camera and said it was ok. Your situation is indeed an infraction by it's placement and line of sight.

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13 minutes ago, Ludwig13 said:

 

It is the landlord's attorney asking for the money.
 

 

That is NOT A FINE.

That is mere attempted extortion by the other side's lawyers! There is no need to rush a payment to them.

Is there any way you can get a statement from the policemen that visited you and confirmed the camera was pointed down and inoperative? They are witnesses, after all.

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They can claim whatever they want in their cease and desist, it is up to you to either accept it, to send back an altered version of the cease and desist or to ignore it and to go to court.    You most probably need a lawyer and it seems your lawyer insurance do not want to cover it.

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34 minutes ago, Ludwig13 said:

There is a written law that states a camera can not be directed toward a person or property whether operable or not. In my case, the camera is pointing at the GROUND. The police even looked at the angle of the camera and said it was ok. Your situation is indeed an infraction by it's placement and line of sight.

:huh: You said you were also outside taking snaps. I find the girls' screaming unnecessary, if indeed it really was screaming, but it is their legal right not to be filmed and/or intimidated by anyone in any way. 

Our reaction to what happened to us was to take pictures of the cameras installed and forward everything to Police and lawyers. 

When we informed friends what was happening to us, some of them said they would have ripped the installed cameras out and destroyed them. We didn't do this, but obviously it is tempting. 

Different people react to these things in different ways. ;)

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33 minutes ago, Metall said:

Is there any way you can get a statement from the policemen that visited you and confirmed the camera was pointed down and inoperative? They are witnesses, after all.

The responding officer was on vacation this week. No information could be given over the phone. My wife will call on Sunday and talk to him about obtaining info and his statement.

IF POSSIBLE

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11 minutes ago, lunaCH said:

:huh: You said you were also outside taking snaps. I find the girls' screaming unnecessary, if indeed it really was screaming, but it is their legal right not to be filmed and/or intimidated by anyone in any way. 

Our reaction to what happened to us was to take pictures of the cameras installed and forward everything to Police and lawyers. 

When we informed friends what was happening to us, some of them said they would have ripped the installed cameras out and destroyed them. We didn't do this, but obviously it is tempting. 

Different people react to these things in different ways. ;)

Oh yeah, they came to my door screaming. I invited them in to see the camera and they said they would not come in. I understand your perspective. I will say I could have kept the peace by moving the tripod, but I actually felt no need to and I truly felt justified especially after the police visit.

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31 minutes ago, Krieg said:

They can claim whatever they want in their cease and desist, it is up to you to either accept it, to send back an altered version of the cease and desist or to ignore it and to go to court.    You most probably need a lawyer and it seems your lawyer insurance do not want to cover it.

As soon as the letter came, I moved the camera. I'm bent because of the threats. 

The 1000 bucks is a random number they came up with for the supposed loss of business and customer fears. I say bullshit. No one left and there was no way they lost 1000 Euros in business. 

The fear of going to court and having to pay the winner's costs puts fear in me.

I still have not seen an actual statute about the camera placement.

It's being accused of something I was not doing and being threatened because of their paranoia. If I pop a hard-on at the spa,(cold water shock...lol) are all the women going to scream rape? It's absurd. Hopefully we can have some type of mediation without extreme costs.

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This is how I had the camera. This is how the police viewed the camera. The roller was up at the time. I closed it so I wouldn't be accused of replacing the camera. 

20200711_134631.jpg

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1 hour ago, Ludwig13 said:

I took the camera out to 

our balcony and shot photos of the sky.

 

Is it possible that this was the cause for concern? 

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56 minutes ago, lunaCH said:

I don't think it is ridiculous. Some people can feel threatened. 

 

No, it actually is ridiculous.  Everything about this is ridiculous.

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4 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

 

Is it possible that this was the cause for concern? 

No, because the beer garden had not opened yet. Obviously pointing at a 50 degree angle UP is quite a bit different then 50 degrees downward. We are on the first floor. the beer garden is down and across. I shot down the street and into the sky. The beer garden is to my right and downward. No mistake.

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7 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

 

Is it possible that this was the cause for concern? 

Every time I get a new lens, I go to the balcony and shoot random objects to do micro adjustments. I've been here three years and never a word. I started parking on the street. Three weeks later...Bammmmmm....lawsuit. 

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If I were a customer, a camera in this position would be the least of my worries. The woman owner meets, greets, serves and collects money all with her mask only over her mouth. She literally....and I kid not.....literally pulls her mask off her face to talk and take money. That would be my worry; a covid germ from an uncovered mouth which deals with over 100 customers/strangers a day. And yet they continue to come. Obviously a fear of privacy violation supercedes health. 

Not really my concern because I do not patronize the place. However, one of the daughters and her husband live above us and they work over there too. We are very safe. I sanitize the door handles and wear a mask in the stairway. Too many risks.

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