In Germany, you can't share photos and videos of other people without their permission. In this guide, we explain the rules every photographer must follow.

Taking photos of people

In general, you can take photos of people in public spaces, but there are some exceptions.

  • You can't take photos of people if it shows their helplessness.1 For example, you can't take photos of accident victims, drunk people or nude people without their permission.2 This also applies to celebrities.16
  • You can't take photos of people if it violates their privacy. You can't take pictures of people in their home, or in a changing room.16

You can't take such pictures, even if you don't share them.17

Sharing photos of people

If you share a photo of someone, you need their permission first. You need permission to share the photo on a website, on social media, in an email, in a group chat, in a newspaper, or in any other publication.3 There are some exceptions.

You can share a photo of a person without their permission if:

  • The person can't be recognised from the picture4
  • or the person is a public figure, or part of contemporary history (a politician, a movie star, …)5
  • or the person died more than 10 years ago
  • or the people in the picture are accessories in a landscape or special location6
  • or the people in the picture are participating to a public gathering, parade or similar event, and they are not the focus of the photo7
Crowd people
You do not need permission to share photos of public gatherings
Person in a crowd
This is not a photo of a crowd. It's a photo of a person in a crowd. In this case, you need permission.

Be careful. You can't share a photo of someone without their consent if it's against their legitimate interests:18

  • You can use a photo of a famous person for an article or book about them. You can't use a photo of them to promote an unrelated product.8 For example, you can't use the photo of Barack Obama to sell vacuum cleaners.19
  • You can't share photos of people if it severely damages their reputation.9
  • You must respect people's right to privacy, even if they are famous.

Sharing photos of buildings and vehicles

You do not need permission to take, share and sell photos of buildings and vehicles in public spaces. These are called "panorama rights".10 For example, you can sell posters of a classic car parked on the street.11 You do not need the owner's permission.

This only applies to public spaces. You need permission to share pictures taken inside a business, a house or a museum.12

Music black and white architecture road white street 613839 pxhere com
You can sell photos of buildings and cars without permission, if they are taken from a public street.

How do I get permission?

Normally, you just need to ask the person in the photo.

Sometimes, the permission is implicit:

  • If you pay someone to take their photo, you have their permission to share the photo.20
  • If everyone in the picture is smiling at the camera, you have their permission to take a photo.21 You still need permission to share the photo.
  • If the subject died, you must get permission from their relatives. If they died more than 10 years ago, no consent is needed.20
  • You can't use someone's profile photo without their permission.22

What happens if I don't follow the rules?

The punishment is a fine, or up to 2 years in prison.13 People rarely go to prison, but fines and lawsuits are common.23

The subject of the photo can sue for damages.19 You might have to pay for the victim's legal costs.14

If you took the photo by accident, you can delete the picture without punishment. For example, if you take a drone video, and catch someone naked in their backyard.24

Can I just blur people's faces?

No. You must make sure that the person can't be recognised.25

Photo blurred still recognisable
Tattoos and hair style can still make a person recognisable

Do I have to censor licence plates?

Yes, you should also blur vehicle licence plates. This is not always required.26

Can I film the police in Germany?

There is no exception for police officers.15 The rules described above also apply to the police. You can film police officers, but you can't share photos or videos of police officers without getting their permission or blurring their faces.

Need help?

Where to find help ➞ Legal questions

Sources and footnotes





  6. §23 KunstUrhG,, 

  7. §23 KunstUrhG, 






  13. §33 KunstUrhG, 







  20. §22 KunstUrhG