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The Technoviking Trial

For years there have been many requests from event, production and distribution companies that were interested to employ the Technoviking dancer but nobody was able to find the real person, not even the filmmaker himself.

Around christmas 2009 the technoviking video's main protagonist sent a lawyer to the filmmaker in order to stop all further publication of his film "Kneecam No.1". He claimed that the video was produced, published and used for merchandising without his consent and that he would be losing jobs because of the Technoviking's fame and on top of that being approached by political right wing oriented people who also abuse his image.

At that time the clip was already out of the filmmaker's control for years. It existed with hundreds of copies all over the web. It is true that within 2 years until the plaintiff send his 1st lawyer, the filmmaker had earned a total of around 10000 Euro in connection with the meme's popularity.

The amount resulted basically from YouTube Advertisements and to a small part from TV-licenses and T-shirts sales. From the beginning of the negotiations the filmmaker offered to share all profits he made in connection to the Technoviking meme. He further expressed to be open to discuss together future options on how to market the meme's success.

Since  the dancer had no interest to continue the Technoviking project and benefit from its financial outcome, Fritsch stopped all commercial activities that were connected to the plaintiff's image, he blocked the original video on YouTube with annotations and limited the use of images that show the real persona to an only internal and offline use within the Technoviking archive. Still it was not possible to find a compromise outside court and in early 2010 the video's protagonist announced that he would take the case to court. Nothing happened for almost three years until the end of 2012 when the plaintiff finally sued the film maker, shortly before the case would have been expired. He also demanded financial compensation.
The trial began in the middle of january 2013 in Berlin. The judges suggested a settlement between the two parties that was in favor of the plaintiff but he didn't accepted. In May 2013 the 3 judges at the Berlin regional court pronounced a verdict. As a result it was not allowed anymore to show the original video as long as it is possible to identify the protagonist. The filmmaker Matthias Fritsch will be facing a fee up to 250000 Euro or up to 6 months of jail time in case of violating the judgement. Additional the filmmaker had to pay the complete money that he had earned to the plaintiff with an exception of ca. 2000 Euro because of an issue with the  social office in the plaintiff's home town. The judges denied the plaintiff any further financial compensation for personal suffering and concluded that he basically would be after the money but not consequently trying to solve his argued problems by waiting for almost 3 years.

At the End of July 2013 the plaintiff appealed to the judgement and took the trial a step further to Kammergericht Berlin which is one level below the constitutional court in Germany. Besides demanding the additional money for personal suffering the plaintiff also wanted to censor user generated reactions like comics and the black silhouette of the already censored screenshot of the original Technoviking video.

It took the court an other 1,5 years to decide that the judges wouldn't continue the dancer's appeal on the next level. In fall 2014 the plaintiff withdraw his appeal and the first verdict became valid.


Legal advice for Technoviking Content (engl. subtitles)

Till Kreutzer from iRights.law explains how the verdict can affect user videos and other Technoviking related publications.

Read a german article about the trial were iRights.info also published the verdict.

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