If I get a ticket for speeding in Germany with a photo taken by an automatic camera, is there any copyright attached to that photo, or can I use it without asking the state for permission?
A flash photo (Blitzfoto/Beweisfoto) is a technical aid (Technische Hilfsmittel) for the speed limit enforcement (Geschwindigkeitsüberwachung).
They are created for the sole purpose to be used as evidence for a fine notice (Bußgeldbescheid) and must originate from a responsible authority (i.e. not privat persons or companies) that is determined by state laws.
It is an integral portion of the file (Akte) of the notice. The file belongs to the responsible authority (generally called Bußgeldstelle).
Since it is a combination of technical data togeather with a photo, the copyright rules for a photo should not be assumed.
- flash photo of a culprit flying 15 km/h over the 30 km/h speed limit
The responsible authority will not have any copyright, due to §5 UrhG, but it still belongs to them.
It’s possible there is no copyright
I’m not familiar with the specifics of German copyright law, but, in general, a photograph must have an author to be protected by copyright.
As far as I know, it has not been litigated but it’s possible that a photo taken by an automated camera has no author and, therefore, no copyright.
A counter argument is that the technician who set up the camera, choosing its field of view and the parameters by which it is triggered is sufficient to make them the author.
Assuming that is the case, then the technician owns the copyright and the person who engaged the technician has full economic rights. Unlike English speaking countries, copyright in Germany does not recognise the “work for hire” doctrine and does not allow transfer of copyright except by inheritance.
So, you would need the technician’s permission to use it and the states permission to profit from it. Subject to the normal exceptions.