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Legal Action Threatened Over Pic of Naked Man Chasing Pig

While hilarious, the incident raises questions about when and how companies can use images without copyright permission or a licensing agreement.

Adele Landauer, an actor and charisma coach, told German reporters she’s upset that that others are making money from her snapshot, which went viral last August.

The action took place at a lake in the city of Berlin when a well-known wild boar, nicknamed Elsa by local bathers, stole a man’s laptop in a bag that she likely believed contained food. The fully naked man ran full bore, so to speak, after the larcenous pig, startling a number of passersby, and inadvertently crossing Landauer’s camera lens.

Railway model of a naked Berliner chasing a wild boar has sparked a copyright battle involving the angry photographer, who says others are profiting from the image without her permission.

The scene from the photo has now been adapted into a plastic figurine set being sold by Busch GmbH & Co. KG, a model railway company, as an ornament for the landscape of a model railway set. The figurine set no longer appears on the site.

According to the description from Busch, the so-called action set of a “naked man pursuing a wild boar who has stolen his bag—after a true event at the Berlin Teufelssee—including two air mattresses”—can contribute to the “realistic revival” of a model railway world.

The Guardian newspaper noted that, “Missing from the set are the two piglets who followed their mother as she charged into a nearby wooded area, as well as the onlookers in various states of dress who watched the chase with startled glee.”

Landauer, the photographer, was notably less gleeful, telling the German newspaper Bild, “I had a huge amount of work due to that picture, but financially I got nothing from it. I don’t like the fact that others are now earning money from it without asking me.”

Landauer also pointed out that she asked the naked man for permission to post the photo on her social media. He remains unidentified.

But Landauer is fuming over others earning money from her photo, including Busch, particularly after a company spokesperson told reporters, “Sales are going well.”

From a licensing point of view, Landauer is correct that her photos cannot be reproduced without her permission, other than the narrow exception of news media printing the photo as part of a story about the issue. Reproducing the photo without permission for profit would be a copyright violation.

That may be why the hot-selling nudist and the thieving hog do not appear prominently on the Busch website this week, although a company could argue it was depicting the action itself, not the photo.

No word yet on whether any legal action is being pursued.

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