A European Union Court of Justice recently ruled on a case where a photographer had sued various newspapers, seeking damages, because photos she had taken were used without her permission or attribution in articles about a missing child. The court held that using copyrighted materials, such as pictures, in order to serve a public service is a permissible use of the copyright.

It further stated that while the government is the best actor to use photos for such a purpose, newspapers can be a vital tool in situations like this, where the newspaper is attempting to aid in the investigation. The Court instructed that the author's information should be listed, when available, or else the source of the photo must be listed.

(As an aside, a general principle in Intellectual Property Law, particularly when dealing with copyrights, is that if you do not enforce your copyrights, you may lose them, and your property may become a part of the public domain. This is a possible reason why the photographer in question was attempting to enforce her rights.)

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