The below does not constitute legal advice, it’s our own opinion from our research based on communicating with German based solicitors, reading other legal advice regarding Fechner Legal on justanswer.com/law and from consulting with our own lawyer. The below may assist others and the below is what we would personally do.
I’m scared, what are my options?
Fechner Legal’s letters are intended to be frightening. The legal jargon, the ridiculous sums of money involved and the unproven damages. The first thing to do is to calm down and relax, before considering one of the below:
- Ignore the emails and letters: If you made an honest mistake and didn’t profit from the image rectify it in the least by purchasing a license for the copyrighted image as a good while also removing it from your site. You can do a Google search for the image in question, allowing you to view where you can legally purchase the question. You may wish to explain the issue to the copyright holder while also ignoring Robert and talking to a local law professional. Fechner Legal would are trying hard to con you from your money.
- Fight Fechner Legal: Prepare your case and respond to Robert Fechner of Fechner legal that you’re happy for him to proceed with the case, requesting he furnish you with a copy of proceedings. Very unlikely the case will make it to court for minor infringements or honest mistakes that you didn’t profit from or expose the copyright holder to. If Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal continues to harress you without actually submitting court documents you can report Fechner Legal. See the relevent section below – “Where can I report Fechner Legal”. Be sure to also read the “I need help arguing my case. What can I do?” for advice on taking your case forward.
- Talk to a local solicitor / lawyer: Professional legal advice can point you in the right direction. Be sure to gather all the facts to make it easy for your local solicitor.
I only used the image on social media – on my personal page, what should I do?
Take the image down and ignore the totally unreasonable demands from Robert Fechner of Fechner in Berlin. DO NOT sign the cease and desist letter – this is an admission of liability. The sums involved are not fair and not reasonable.
Note that a cease and desist letter has no legal basis, it’s a request before legal action. Any such case in court – which would cost Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal significant court fees – would be struck out and even laughed at by any reasonable judge. Providing you didn’t profit from the image you have nothing to worry about, ignore and don’t respond. If you’re based outside of Germany would Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal in Berlin really get someone in your country to file court proceedings – for a social media post that would never go anywhere?
Don’t stop there and report Robert if you feel you’ve been wronged, threatened or sent letters from a debt collector – there is no debt to be paid. You didn’t sign anything or admit to anything.
I didn’t post the image in question, somebody else did?
DO NOT sign the letter from Robert Fechner of Fechner legal. You may be covered by the “Safe Harbour” rule. Take the image in question down immediately, from the front end and back end of your website. After doing so have a quick chat with your local legal representation, explaining the situation.
I used the image commercially
If you did profit from the image in question or used the image commercially take the image down immediately, from your website and from your file manager. After doing so contact your own solicitor or lawyer. You may have a defense. You have options, including the below:
- Offering the copyright holder a fair price for the image, while offering an genuine apology.
- Reach a settlement with the copyright holder directly
- Counter Fechner Legal’s ridiculous demands with a more proportionate settlement
Fechner Legal has started court proceedings. What can I do?
Has he really? Simply ask Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal in Berlin for a copy of all court proceedings. You have a right to these documents and a quick check from a German based law firm can verify whether court proceedings have been filed. Should any case be accepted you also have a right to request proceedings to be transferred to your own country.
Can Fechner Legal really bring me to court in Germany when I’m based in another country?
Absolutely no. You may have made a small error in judgement with a copyrighted image but plan your defense and allow Robert to file court proceedings. It won’t go that far unless you happen to have profited from the image or unless Robert can prove the actual ridiculous damages claims he’s demanding. Talk to a local law professional and do not communicate with Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal in Berlin Germany.
Can Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal Berlin really bring me to court at all?
They can, but really depends on the jurisdiction you are based in, the jurisdiction of the copyright holder AND the jurisdiction of where court proceedings are to be held. While it’s complicated we’ve yet to read any reports recipient of a Fechner Legal email/letter successfully brought to court at time of writing, something another law firm has pointed out. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but it’s very very unlikely for such minor infringements. Seek legal advice if needed.
Is the onus on me to prove I didn’t infringe on any copyrighted materials?
If it ever went to court – in a jurisdiction applicable to you – then Fechner Legal would have to provide any evidence of the damages caused. Providing you have immediately removed any copyrighted material and proof that you do perform due diligence along with a commitment to ensure no further infringements then any reasonable judge would expect a blogger or small non commercial site owner to stump up the kind of money being asked by Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal. According to others such efforts would be laughed out of court, something I agree with given our own circumstances. The above is not legal advice, this is my opinion.
The sum involved is too high.
Of course it is! This is an intentional tactic which can only be perceived very poorly even amongst other law professionals. Where does Mr Fechner get these extortionate (in my opinion) figures from?
I’m worried about the mounting legal fees and penalties.
Only a court in YOUR OWN COUNTRY can compel you to pay legal legal fees, and that would be AFTER a Germany court finds you guilty and awards costs. Would/could a German court really even listen to a case for an image which you didn’t benefit from? Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal in Berlin Germany would have to prove damages, while also proving you didn’t have any rights to use the photographs.
Do I have to pay the penalties and the legal costs included in the demand?
Only a court can determine that you have to comply with legal costs for the claimant. This would have to be a court applicable to your own jurisdiction. Are you based in Germany, are you based in the EU?
I need help arguing my case. What can I do?
Collect all the information that’s relevant to your case but whatever you do don’t contact Fechner Legal yourself if you do wish to fight your case. Let Fechner legal know through your own solicitor that you’ll be pursuing your own case against him if you see fit.
Some of the below may apply to your own case:
- Were the images you had on your website really available for viewers in Germany – where Fechner Legal are filing a case? Maybe your Geo restricted website shouldn’t have been available for German viewers, you’re plugin such as IQ Block wasn’t working for a period of time. That’s not your fault, IT problems happen. This can count in your favor.
- Did you knowingly upload copyright images? If not this is an honest mistake. This can count in your favor.
- Is the image in question widely available? If so maybe you downloaded it from a public domain image bank such as Pexels, PXFuel or Pixabay. Someone else may have incorrectly uploaded it to one of this public domain image repositories. This can count in your favor.
- Did you take the image down as soon as it was made aware of any copyright breach? This includes taking the image down from your website images directory, not just front page visibility. This can count in your favor.
- Did you offer the original copyright holder a fair price for the image used as soon as you were made aware of any breach of copyright? Contact the copyright holder yourself and explain the situation – not through Fechner Legal. If so this can count in your favor – you’ve made an effort to rectify the situation, whether successful or not.
- Did someone else – maybe no longer with your company upload the image, despite being warned to only use public domain images? Gather that undertaking from them. This can count in your favor.
- Did you receive no financial gain from the image in question? This can count in your favor.
- Are the figures in Fechner Legals demands unreasonable? This can count in your favor.
- Is the image you used available on a stock image website for lower than the amount being quoted by Fechner Legal? This is an indicator that Fechner Legals damages claims are unreasonable. This can count in your favor.
I’ve already signed the cease and desist letter, what should I do?
Contact a law professional in your own jurisdiction and do not respond to Fechner Legal in Berlin without professional legal advice.
How can Fechner Legal get away with this?
Unfortunately German Law doesn’t seem to be on top of such legal scams. That’s why it’s important to report Fechner Legal using the steps mention below. This wouldn’t happen in the US – an example of a US based lawyer with a very similar approach to Fechner Legal can be found below below:
Fechner Legal are harassing me, what can I do?
If you’ve expressed to Robert Fechner that you’re happy for him to proceed with court proceedings to defend your case, yet still receiving letters or emails send your own cease and desist letter to Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal Berlin. Your own local solicitor or lawyer can assist with this, or alternatively you can use a Berlin based law firm. Fechner Legals letters are threatening and contain legal jargon intended to scare people into paying his extortionate demands. You may have your own case against Fechner Legal.
How do I report Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal?
You could do like we did. Gather the facts and if you feel the demands and threats from Robert Fechner of Fechner Legal in Berlin are excessive gather all the wrongdoings and facts into a document. After doing so you may report Robert Fechner or Fechner Legal to the following: