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#FoodPorn in Germany may cook up legal woes

Instagrammers and foodies beware: snapping pics of scrumptious snacks in Germany could leave you facing a lawsuit for copyright infringement by the chef, a lawyer has warned.

#FoodPorn in Germany may cook up legal woes
Snaps like this could see diners facing hefty fines. Photo: DPA.

#FoodPorn is a widely recognized tag on social media for ridiculously mouth-watering food images – but according to a report by Die Welt, food bloggers across Germany could find themselves up against the law when they photograph and upload their meals.

A 2013 Federal Court of Justice ruling expanded copyright protections to apply to elaborately arranged food, making it the artistic property of its creator. That means that anyone wanting to post a pic of the work of culinary art may have to ask permission first.

“An elaborately arranged dish in a restaurant can be a copyright-protected work,” explained Dr. Niklas Haberkamm, partner at corporate law firm Lampmann, Haberkamm & Rosenbaum (LHR) to Welt.

“In such a case, the creator of the work has the right to decide where and to what extent the work can be reproduced,” he said.

The aim of copyright is to protect an individual creation. And it doesn't matter whether the action – for example; reproduction, propagation, or making an image publicly available – is intended for commercial use or not, reports Welt. 

German legal services website Anwalt.de wrote in a post about food porn on Thursday that whether a meal is considered art depends on the advanced level of the meal's design, so snapping a selfie with your French fries from a food stand is not going to be the problem – it's when you go to more refined, world-rated establishments.

In theory, punishment for infringement of copyright could be serious with out-of-court settlements potentially exceeding hundreds of euros. And if court proceedings are brought against an unlucky photographer, the costs could be in the thousands.

Until now, no case has actually been recorded of a chef or restaurateur filing a complaint for infringement of copyright. But it could well happen sooner or later, reports Welt.

Anwalt.de suggests being cautious.

“If you want to be absolutely on the safe side, you should probably ask the host or the chef,” the legal website wrote.

Yet even when no artistic infringement is involved, food porn can cause a whole host of problems – for example, if the proprietor has explicitly banned photography in the restaurant.

A few years ago, a restaurant in Germany provoked uproar when it plastered signs around its interior telling customers: “Please do not Instagram the food in this restaurant!”

“Even if no copyright infringement has occurred, the restaurant owner is legally allowed, by householder's rights, to forbid customers taking photos of food,” Haberkamm explained.

So if the photographic urge strikes during a visit to a Michelin-starred eatery, give it a moment's thought: you could be biting off more than you can chew.

Written by Hannah Butler.

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ASPARAGUS

Only in Germany: McDonald’s begins offering ‘Spargel Burger’

Amid Germany's famous 'Asparagus Season', the fast food chain has begun offering an unusual twist on typical ingredients.

Only in Germany: McDonald's begins offering 'Spargel Burger'
A basket of Spargel in Kutzleben, Thuringia marked the start of this year's season on April 14th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Martin Schutt

How do you know that you’re definitely in Germany? One sure fire way: when you check the menu of a McDonald’s in the springtime and see a ‘Spargel Burger’. 

Germans are so enamored by the ‘white gold’ –  special light-coloured asparagus which is much thicker than its North American green counterpart – that it’s now a featured fast food at McDonald’s Germany, and with classic Hollandaise sauce and bacon to boot. 

On Thursday, the popular American fast-food chain restaurant – which counts nearly 1,500 outlets in Germany – published a photo of the “Big Spargel Hollandaise” saying that it would be available at select restaurants. They assured customers: “Yes, it’s really there.”

But its release was met with mixed reactions. “We absolutely have to go to McDonald’s sometime,” wrote one. Yet another called the unconventional creation “perverse.”

Another commenter showed skepticism: “Hollandaise sauce on a burger? Does that even taste good?”

Others weighed in on social media to point out that the product is a sign of Germany’s fascination with the vegetable. 

The burger is the latest to join the asparagus craze, with a phallic-shaped Spargel monument in Torgau, Saxony capturing the public attention – or bewilderment – earlier in the week.

An annual tradition

Every year, Germany typically celebrates ‘Spargelzeit’ (asparagus season) from the middle of April until June 24th, which many dub ‘Spargelsilvester’ (Asparagus-New Year’s Eve). 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Spargelzeit

The beloved vegetable, harvested heavily around the country, usually has its own special menu devoted to it at restaurants, and is sold in supermarkets – or road-side stands – next to jars of the classic Hollandaise sauce. 

The top states which grow the crop are Lower Saxony, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, but Beeliz, Brandenburg is also synonymous with Spargel in Germany. 

In normal years the tiny town hosts a sprawling festival to mark the start of the season, anointing a Spargel king and queen.

READ ALSO: Here’s why Germans go so completely crazy for asparagus

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