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Use of a promotional film after the end of an employment

Can an employer publish a promotional film after an employee, who appears in the film, is no longer employed by the company? The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) decided upon this matter on February 19, 2015 (docket number: 8 AZR 1011/13).

The defendant had commissioned the production of a promotional film about its company in 2008. The plaintiff, who had been employed by the defendant at that time, appeared in two sequences in the film, each approximately two seconds long. The plaintiff consented in writing that he, as part of the staff, would be filmed and the film would be used for public relations. The promotional film was eventually published on the defendant’s website.

After the termination of his employment in 2011, the plaintiff revoked his consent and asked the defendant to take down the film from its website. The plaintiff filed a claim with the labour court asking for an injunction and compensation for non-material damage.

The Federal Labour Court denied the plaintiff’s demands. It ruled that the plaintiff had in fact given his consent without limitations to the publication of his own image and that his consent had not expired with the termination of the employment. Such a consent could generally be revoked. However, a plausible reason is necessary for that, such as a change in material circumstances. In the case at hand, the court stated that the plaintiff did not present such a plausible reason. Therefore, he could not request the defendant to refrain from publishing the promotional film on its website.