Current Events Exception Reinterpreted in a Landmark Copyright Infringement Case

by ZS Law

Živković Samardžić, one of the Serbia’s leading full-service independent law firms, today announced a landmark decision in a copyright infringement case that has reinterpreted the current events exception in the Serbian copyright law.

The firm was acting for 021, a broadcaster and news site operator from Novi Sad, Serbia, against a copyright infringement claim for the alleged unauthorized use of photograph, brought by a photographer Nebojša Radosavljević. 021 used Radosavljević’s photograph as the part of its report on the trafic accident leaving seven people injured in the city of Kragujevac. Photograph was made several minutes after the accident, on the very spot of it. 

In its decision No. Gž4-88/16 delivered to the parties recently, the Court of Appeal in Belgrade reinterpreted the current events exception to copyright infringement from the Article 43 of the Serbian Copyright Act in a way resembling the Article 5.3(c) of the EU Copyright Directive (the Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society), that allows for exception in the cases where the use of copyrighted work is connected with the reporting of current events, to the extent justified by the informatory purpose of the reporting. 

Previously, Serbian courts, when construing the current events exception, played rather safely and kept closer to the original wording of the Article 10bis(2) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which mentions explicitly, when allowing the current events exception, the ”works seen or heard in the course of the [current] event“ only, and not the works related to the current event. 

The Court of Appeal in Belgrade underlined the informatory purpose of the 021’s reporting on the “serious trafic accident in the city of Kragujevac” and concluded that the photograph, since taken immediately after the accident and on the very scene of the accident, was “an integral part of the reported current event”. Thus, the Court of Appeal concluded, “defendant was authorised to reproduce the photograph and make it available to the public, without author’s permission and without paying remuneration”. 

Živković Samardžić team representing 021 at the Higher Court in Belgrade and during the appellate proceedings at the Court of Appeal in Belgrade was led by Miloš Stojković, Živković Samardžić Technology, Media and Telecommunications Associate.

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