We are witnessing that there is a constant "hunger" for information in modern society and that the media are competing to be the first to publish exclusive news. The average reader is overwhelmed by a massive amount of information, and the media almost always publish articles and appealing photos to attract the reader's attention.
Domestic media very often post such photos without the authors' knowledge and, therefore, without their consent and payment of appropriate compensation. In this way, the photographer's copyright is breached.
According to Art. 4 of the Law on Copyright and Related Rights ("Official Gazette of Montenegro" 53/2016 and 145/2021), a photo represents a copyrighted work. According to Art. 13 of the same law, the author has copyright, which includes moral rights, property rights and other rights of the author. Moral rights include, among others, the exclusive right of the author to be recognized as the author of their work in such a way that their name is indicated on the work and in connection with the work, as well as the right to respect the work, which implies that the author has the exclusive right to oppose any distortion, alteration or other breaches in connection with their work if such actions endanger or may endanger their honour or reputation.
On the other hand, property copyright protects the author's economic interests. The author is entitled to royalties for any use of their work by another person or to fair compensation. The author also has the exclusive right to permit or prohibit the reproduction of their work on a material medium, the exclusive right to display their photographic work to the public with the help of technical devices, the exclusive right to publicly communicate their work, the exclusive right to make the work available to the public, the exclusive right to the processing of works and the like.
If their copyright - moral or material - has been violated, the author can seek the protection of their rights and compensation for damages before the court. The Commercial Court of Montenegro is competent to decide on copyright infringement lawsuits. The claim is usually aimed at establishing a violation of rights, prohibiting further violations and future violations, publishing a verdict for violation of rights and compensation for both material damages (in the usual amount of royalty or fair settlement) and non-material damages for emotional distress caused by the breach of moral rights of the author.
By Marija Zivkovic, Senior Associate, JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic