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Copyright Infringement


Gamer playing first person shooter game on high end pc

On 12 January 2017, the German Federal Court of Justice has handed down its second landmark decision on cheat software within three months. After clarifying the question under which conditions cheat software may constitute copyright infringement in October last year, the Federal Court of Justice has now decided that cheat software can constitute an act of unfair competition, too.

To be able to play online games, e.g. World of Warcraft (WoW) or Diablo III , it is necessary to download a client software and install it on the computer. Achieving progress within the game regularly takes several hours. To save time and to easily achieve the goals of the game some companies develop software, so-called cheat- or buddy-bots, allowing the player to overcome the challenges of the game automatically. Online game developers are not pleased by this fact, which is why they try to prevent the distribution of such cheat bots up front.

Cheat Software and Copyright

In October 2016, the Federal Court of Justice had already decided that the commercial downloading and copying of the client software to develop cheat software constitutes copyright infringement. According to the court, this act is neither permitted by the End User License Agreement (EULA), as it only allows private use of the client software, nor does it fall within the scope of § 69 Sec. 3 of the German Copyright Act, which in order to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of a software allows users to observe, study or test the functioning of the program without the authorization of the right holder. However, this exception only applies to computer programs and does not justify the reproduction of the audiovisual content.

Cheat Software and Unfair Competition

Three months later, the Court further decided that the distribution of such cheat bots can also amount to an illegal obstruction of a competitor. The court held that not the breach of contract as such constitutes an act of unfair competition. An act of unfair competition is rather to be seen in the development and distribution of cheat bots which are able to impair the business model by circumventing protective measures which were meant to avoid such impairment. According to the Court it shall remain up to the developer how the game should be played.

A Look Ahead

These decisions make the cheat software business model much more difficult. Due to the fact that for the development of such bots it is necessary to copy the client software, which automatically implies a copying of the audiovisual content, such acts always constitute copyright infringement.

Further, it was held that the development and distribution of cheat bots can constitute an act of unfair competition, if and to the extent the developer´s product is impaired. Therefore, these two decisions may affect the development of software bots beyond the gaming industry. So-called “social bots” used within social networks to automatically generate posts may also impair the business of the operator, and thus may be prohibited as well based on the reasoning of these decisions. How this will be assessed in detail remains to be seen.

This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

Tattooist demonstrate the process tattoo on handIt is only one example of many, but it grasps the very essence of the issue: In 2013, a New York City coffee shop owner got a tattoo on his right hand saying “I [coffee cup] NY.” Cool, if you are a tattoo fan who also loves coffee. Then he started using an illustration of his tattooed hand as a logo for his shop. Not cool, if you are the New York State Department of Economic Development, which served him with a cease-and-desist letter. In the eyes of the state agency, the use of the tattoo design on the shop’s window was less a reference or a tribute to the famous “I love NY” slogan but rather a plain case of trademark infringement.

Yes, copyright and trademark issues may even emerge from someplace as personal as your skin and the ink decorating it. But there is more to the story.

Tattoos Are Copyrightable

A tattoo is a work of graphic art and thus is, in principle, copyrightable. The copyrightability in each case will, of course, depend on whether the tattoo artist managed to meet copyright law’s originality threshold, which is arguably a rather low bar to pass. One can, therefore, safely assume that quite a few ink drawings on body parts could be considered works of art subject to copyright protection.

That is why, for example, National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) officials began advising NFL players to get copyright waivers from their tattoo artists. A case that drew some media attention was the suit filed by Stephen Allen. Allen, a Louisiana-based tattoo artist, sued video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) and former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams over a tattoo that Allen put on Williams’ bicep and which later appeared on the cover of EA’s “NFL Street” video game.

The topic of this blog gets even more complicated when considering that some avowed admirers of certain corporate brands reportedly show their loyalty by getting the trademarks inked on their skin. This phenomenon has even spawned a new word—“skinvertising.”

A Look Ahead

Even though the cases above took place in the United States, sooner or later European Courts will have to deal with similar issues because millennials worldwide love a few dots of ink on their body. Some interesting questions of law arise: For example, what is the extent of requests that a cease-and-desist claim could contain? Could the copyright holder of a work of tattoo art demand someone who has that tattoo cover it in every photo of himself that he posts to Instagram? Courts should be prepared to have answers to those kinds of questions.


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

Stage costume and Halloween bowl with trick or treat candiesWhen cobwebs and tombstones start to show up in your neighborhood, probably something wicked is coming your way—except that one night of the year, on Halloween. Even though Halloween involves frightening things—haunted houses, the undead, tricks in response to no treats—it is ultimately about carefree fun. And there’s candy! But if you are in a Halloween-related business, there is a genuinely scary side to the holiday—IP issues that, if ignored, could lead to a wicked lawsuit.

For example, in 2005, in the case Chosun International, Inc. v. Chrisha Creations, Ltd., the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declared that elements of a (not very scary) Halloween costume could be copyrightable. Under the US Copyright Act, protection does not, in principle, extend to utilitarian or functional elements of the artist’s original work and, therefore, does not extend to elements that enhance a costume’s functionality qua clothing. However, in the case of Chosun’s plush sculpted animal costumes, the court held that certain elements might be separable from the overall design of the costume, and hence eligible for copyright protection. For example, Chosun might be able to show that the sculpted “heads” and “hands” of its costume design are physically separable from the overall costume in that they could be removed from the costume “without adversely impacting the wearer’s ability to cover his or her body.”

Thinking of creating a costume based on something less cuddly—say a fictional serial killer, such as Michael Myers, Hannibal Lecter or Dexter Morgan? Think again. In principle, fictional characters within an original work of authorship (e.g. a book or a movie) are presumed to be simply ideas not worthy of copyright protection on their own. However, fictional characters may be protected independently of their underlying works, provided that they are sufficiently unique and distinctive. In US law, the consensus seems to be that a well-defined serial killer may be copyrightable. Perhaps the most famous comment on the copyrightability of fictional characters comes from Second Circuit Judge Learned Hand in the 1930 case of Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corp. where he wrote that “the less developed the characters, the less they can be copyrighted; that is the penalty an author must bear for marking them too indistinctly.”

Happy Halloween!

Finally, you have to be mindful that many trademarks include the term “Halloween” in their mark. And there is a significant number of patent applications relating to Halloween-ish things like coffins, pumpkins or even, in PCs, “zombie process detection.”


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

Hand holding smartphone with wi-fi connection in cafeOn 15 September 2016 (C-484/14), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the operator of a shop, hotel or bar that offers free Wi-Fi to the public is not liable for copyright infringements committed by the network’s users. However, the operator may be required to password-protect its network in order to prevent—or cease—these infringements.

The Facts of the Case

The case concerns a dispute between Tobias Mc Fadden, the owner of a lighting and sound system shop, and Sony Music Germany. Mc Fadden’s shop offered free Wi-Fi in order to bring in new customers. In 2010, someone used Mc Fadden’s Wi-Fi network to unlawfully offer a copyright-protected musical for downloading. The Regional Court of Munich, Germany, took the view that while Mc Fadden was not the actual infringer, he could be indirectly liable on the grounds that his Wi-Fi network had not been made secure. However, the court was not sure whether the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) precluded such indirect liability and referred a series of preliminary questions to the CJEU.

Opinion of the Advocate General

On 16 March 2016, Advocate General Maciej Szpunar recommended to the CJEU that the operators of free Wi-Fi networks should not be held liable for copyright infringements committed over their networks. The opinion confirmed the applicability of the E-Commerce Directive—and the “mere conduit” defense in Article 12 of that directive—to free Wi-Fi providers. While acknowledging that the scope of application of Article 12 largely depended on the potential economic nature of the provision of the service, the advocate general opined that the safe harbor provisions should also apply to operators who, as an adjunct to their principal economic activity, offer a Wi-Fi network that is accessible to the public free of charge.

He further commented that the safe harbor provisions prevent courts from making orders against these intermediary service providers for payment of damages and even for the costs of giving formal notices. However, the advocate general said this limitation of liability would not prevent the right holder from seeking an injunction against the Wi-Fi operator to end the infringement. But that injunction could not go so far as to require that the operator terminate or password-protect the internet connection or examine all communications transmitted through it.

Judgment of the CJEU

In its judgment, the CJEU largely followed the opinion of the advocate general while disagreeing on two crucial points. The Court ruled that the operator of a free Wi-Fi network provides an “information society service” within the meaning of Article 12(1) of the E-Commerce Directive if he provides access to the network for the purpose of advertising the goods sold or services supplied by him. This means that the operator can directly rely on the liability exemption laid down in Article 12(1).

However, in the eyes of the Court, the operator of the free Wi-Fi network could be required to protect the network with a password in order to deter users from infringing copyrights. The CJEU further ruled that the right holder can claim from the network operator the costs of giving formal notices and court costs when such claims are made to obtain injunctive relief to prevent the operator from allowing the infringement to continue.


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

interior of a modern photo studioOn 8 September 2016 (C-160/15), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the posting of a hyperlink to copyright-protected works located on another web site does not constitute copyright infringement when the link poster does not seek financial gain and acts without knowledge of the illegal publication. However, when the posting of a hyperlink is carried out for profit, it has to be presumed that the posting has occurred with the full knowledge of the protected nature of that work and the possible lack of consent from the copyright holder to publication on the linked web site.

Facts of the Case

The case involved a dispute between the operators of Dutch web-magazine – GS Media – and, inter alia, Playboy Magazine. In 2011, GS Media published a hyperlink on their weblog directing viewers to an Australian web site where photos of Britt Dekker, a Dutch TV presenter, were made available for download. The photos which were taken for Playboy Magazine were published without the consent of the copyright holder, Sanoma Media Netherlands. Despite Sanoma’s demands, GS Media refused to remove the hyperlink at issue. When the Australian web site removed the photos at Sanoma’s request, GreenStijl published a new hyperlink to another web site on which the photos from Dekker’s Playboy shoot were available.

According to Sanoma, GS Media infringed copyright. Hearing the appeal, the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Supreme Court of the Netherlands) submitted a request for a preliminary ruling from the CJEU on this subject.

Answer to the Question Referred for a Preliminary Ruling

This request for a preliminary ruling concerned the interpretation of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC – in particular, whether the posting of a hyperlink to works available on another web site without the consent of the copyright holder constitutes a “communication to the public” within the meaning of that provision.

In answering that question, the CJEU referred to its decision of 13 February 2014 (C-466/12) in which the Court interpreted Article 3(1) to mean that the posting of hyperlinks to works which have been made available on another web site with the consent of the right holder cannot be categorized as a “communication to the public” as covered by that provision. Where the work is already available to all internet users on another web site with the authorization of the copyright holder, the hyperlink did not communicate that work to a new public, that is to say, to a public that was not already taken into account by the copyright holder when he authorized the initial publication of his work.

However, it could not be inferred from prior decisions that the posting of hyperlinks to protected works which have been made available without the consent of the copyright holders would be excluded, as a matter of principle, from the concept of “communication to the public”. An individual assessment is always required. For the purposes of such an assessment, an account had to be taken of several complementary criteria, inter alia, of whether the posting of a hyperlink was carried out by a person who, in so doing, pursued a profit and whether that person could have reasonably known that the work had been published on the linked web site without the consent of the copyright holder.


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

Athlete showing medalsThe Olympic Games 2016 which take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August are supported by a huge volume of marketing and advertising campaigns. As many countries have done before, Brazil enacted special legislation to protect the Olympic symbols and expressions specific to the games hosted in Rio. The protection offered in these Olympic-special legislations often can go beyond what would normally be available under trademark or copyright protection laws. For example, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 created a sui generis right of association to prevent the use of any representation that is likely to suggest an association between the London Olympics and goods or services.

Germany, as another example, also put some special legislation into place. However, a company that had offered “Olympic discounts” in its advertisements during the 2008 games was found not to infringe the German Olympic Protection Act. The German Federal Supreme Court ruled that, unlike trademark protection, the Olympic Protection Act did not grant legal protection to the advertising function of the Olympic symbols. Therefore, a mere time-related reference like “Olympic discounts” did not lead to infringement.

The Brazilian Olympic Act

Under the Brazilian Olympic Act (Federal Law No 12,035/2009), as amended by the Brazilian Federal Law No 13,284/2016, the Olympic symbols are granted special temporary protection. These include emblems, flags, anthems, mottos, mascots and torches used by the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympics Committee and the Association Rio 2016, charged with the organization of the Games. The protected symbols also include various expressions such as Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Rio 2016 – in any language. However, unlike the London Olympic Act, for example, the Olympic symbols are all subject to protection under trademark law. The protection period shall begin with registration of the symbols with the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and extend until 31 December 2016.

The use of such symbols is prohibited, even for non-commercial purposes, except if authorized by the International Olympic Committee or the Association Rio 2016. Furthermore, the act prohibits the use of terms and expressions that, albeit outside the list of protected symbols, are sufficiently similar to them to the extent that they are able to invoke an undue association of any products and services whatsoever, or even any event or company, with the Rio 2016 Games or the Olympic Movement.

During the time of protection, requests for registration of trademarks that constitute a reproduction or an imitation of the official symbols or are likely to cause any confusion or association with the organizing entities or the official symbols, shall be rejected. In addition, the INPI shall inform the responsible entity for the registration of domain names in Brazil,, of all registered trademarks, so that any requests for registration of domain names containing terms or expressions identical or similar to the trademarks be refused ex officio.

Enjoy the Games!

Even though the legislation may have arrived a bit late (Federal Law No 13,284/2016 was published on 10 May 2016), the Olympic Act provides a solid framework for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights related to the Olympic games. So, all that is left for corporate sponsors or fans of the Olympics is to enjoy the Games!


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

Concert guitar on stage

On 23 June 2016, a US federal jury concluded that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not copy the opening guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” from the song “Taurus,” an earlier tune by US rock band Spirit. The latter song, a 2-minute 27-second instrumental, was recorded nearly four years before “Stairway,” and was released on Spirit’s self-titled debut album in 1968.

The conclusion of the “Stairway” case comes a little more than a year after a federal jury in Los Angeles, California, awarded millions to R&B-soul singer Marvin Gaye’s family. The jury decided that recording stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had plagiarized Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” in creating their hit single “Blurred Lines.”

Facts of the Case

The “Stairway” lawsuit had been brought by the estate of Randy Wolfe (aka “Randy California”), composer of “Taurus” and one of Spirit’s founding members. It alleged that the arpeggiated guitar part in the introduction of “Stairway” was substantially similar to the signature guitar element in “Taurus” and that Led Zeppelin became familiar with the song when they opened for Spirit in various US concert dates in 1968. Guitarist Page, who co-wrote “Stairway” with singer Plant and composed the guitar riff in question, testified in court that he did not recall hearing “Taurus” until recently, after his son-in-law told him that comparisons were being made between the two songs.

After a brief debate, the jury found that, while Page and Plant may have indeed heard the song, there was no substantial similarity in the extrinsic elements of “Taurus” and “Stairway.” This was lucky for Page and Plant because otherwise they would have been liable for a whole lotta damages. Estimates suggest that “Stairway” has generated some $500 million in revenue since its release. When the jurors heard “Taurus,” however, it was only from the sheet music of Spirit’s composition as played by musical experts hired by each side. Until 1978, songwriters could submit only sheet music to copyright a song in the United States. Thus, only the composition—and not the sound recording—was at issue in the case.

Copyright and Chord Progressions

The interesting question of law about whether and under what circumstances a four-chord progression itself could be copyrightable and whether similarities in instrumentation and orchestration could play a role in the answer was not addressed in this case.


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.


In 2013, several artists and music production companies filed a constitutional complaint with the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) against two Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) rulings (I ZR 112/06I ZR 182/11) that held that the sampling of a two-second sound sequence was not admissible under the German Copyright Act (UrhG). In music, “sampling” is the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it in a different song or piece. Sampling is particularly common in modern hip-hop and electronic music.

The complainants argued that the Federal Court of Justice rulings violated their fundamental right to artistic freedom enshrined in Art. 5 para. 3 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz, GG). On 31 May 2016, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court granted the constitutional complaint.

Earlier Cases Before the Federal Court of Justice

In 1977, the German band (and recent Grammy honorees) Kraftwerk released a song called “Metall auf Metall,” which they also produced. The defendants sampled a sequence of two seconds from “Metall auf Metall,” put the sample on a loop and used it as the continuous rhythmic layer for a rap song. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that this act constituted an infringement of Kraftwerk’s copyright-related right as producers of the original sound recording (sec. 85 para. 1 of the German Copyright Act). The “free use” exception (sec. 24 para. 1 of the German Copyright Act) was not considered applicable in this case because, essentially, it would not have been unreasonably cumbersome for the defendants to produce a “sound-alike” rhythm sequence.

Key Considerations of the Federal Constitutional Court

The Federal Constitutional Court held that where the act of sampling only slightly limited the possibilities of exploitation, the interests of the holder of a copyright (or a related right of the phonogram producer) may have to cede in favour of artistic freedom.

The presumption by the Federal Court of Justice that even the inclusion of a very brief sound sequence interfered with Kraftwerk’s right to protection if a sound-alike sequence could have been produced did not, in the eyes of the Federal Constitutional Court, pay adequate attention to the right to freedom of artistic expression. There was no evident risk that Kraftwerk would suffer from a decline in sales through the adoption of the sound sequence into a song that did not show much similarity to the original sound recording. Only in cases of a high degree of similarity between the songs at issue could one actually presume that the new work will compete with the original work.

The case was sent back to the Federal Court of Justice to allow it to give constitutionally appropriate consideration to both the freedom of artistic activity and the protection of the phonogram producer’s property rights. In its judgment, the Federal Constitutional Court also emphasized that the Federal Court of Justice, first of all, has to assess whether, due to the primacy of application of European Union law, there was still room for the application of German law. The final words in this matter have yet to be spoken.


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

Watching show, movie on television at home. Popcorn, remote control.A Spanish man using the pseudonym “Frikidoctor” has been posting videos to a major video-sharing web site that detail the events of several upcoming episodes of a popular medieval fantasy TV series, including some key plot twists. Frikidoctor’s video “predictions” (which later turned out to be remarkably accurate) were also translated to English and posted to Reddit. At some point, the videos had been taken down from the web site, marked with “copyright claim by [a major cable TV network].” Reportedly, the network is asserting that these videos are infringing on its copyright even if some of the videos do not contain any actual video footage or stills from their hit series. After the videos were removed, Redditors began fervent discussions about whether or not the network was entitled to remove those videos. Some legal experts claim that by giving detailed plot information, one could possibly be liable for copyright infringement. This is, however, not clear. Interestingly, the web site has since restored the videos.

Copyright Protection Does Not Extend to Ideas

In principle, copyright protection does not extend to information and ideas themselves. The protection only covers the specific form or manner in which information or ideas are expressed (e.g., a book, play or film).

However, the German Federal Supreme Court affirmed in its Laras Tochter decision that, under the German copyright regime, the protection afforded to a work by copyright went beyond the concrete textual representation of a thought. Rather, the copyright protection extended to components of the work that lie in the telling of the story, in the individual traits and roles of the characters involved and in the arrangement of scenes and scenery. Accordingly, the originality test vested in sec. 2 para. 1 No. 1 of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) did not confine itself to the written word, but also to plot, characters and scenes, as long as they are each original enough to be protectable. Basic plotlines (e.g., a love story about two young people from rival families), however, are merely considered ideas and, therefore, not copyrightable.

But Could Plot Elements Be Copyrightable?

Assuming that the TV series’ plotline is in fact copyrightable, the question remains of whether spoiling single elements of the plotline could be infringing under the applicable national copyright regimes. Where literal similarities between storylines are concerned, even small textual elements are considered to be copyrightable on their own. For example, reproducing an 11-word passage of a novel could be considered copyright infringing—provided, of course, that one does not act within the scope of copyright limitations and exceptions (e.g., citation rights).

This assumption does, however, not necessarily apply in the same way to non-textual elements, when literal similarities between the works are not at issue. In the case of so-called “non-literal” similarities between works, it is unclear whether and, if so, under what circumstances, single plot elements could be copyrightable on their own.

Does spoiling plot details amount to copyright infringement? That question cannot yet be answered with precision. Lawmakers and courts have not yet provided us with sufficient guidelines to address the issue. The only reasonable answer for now is that, yes, in some cases single plot elements could be copyrightable on their own, depending on the circumstances.


This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s  blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.

iStock_000034615972_XXXLargeSnapchat, the fast-growing social media network/messaging app, has spawned some controversy over how copyright law is interpreted in the United Kingdom. In a recent Q&A session with members of Parliament, the British government was asked whether it will take steps to prevent Snapchat images from being made public without the image owner’s consent. In his written response dated 24 March 2016, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, answered that “[u]nder UK copyright law, it would be unlawful for a Snapchat user to copy an image and make it available to the public without the consent of the image owner. The image owner would be able to sue anyone who does this for copyright infringement.”

This statement could be overly simplistic because it might imply that any sharing of Snapchat images is unlawful. Nonetheless, it highlights the potential copyright implications of screenshotting and other image-sharing activities on Snapchat and other social media Networks.

Snapchat users send their friends images and video clips that disappear after a set amount of time. Once a file has been opened, the recipient has a maximum time limit of ten seconds to view its contents. If Snapchat can detect that a screenshot has illicitly been taken, the company will try to inform the sender. But there are ways to circumvent notification.

Sharing Screenshots of Images Is Not Necessarily Copyright Infringement

A suit for copyright infringement requires that the person suing is the copyright owner. In the case of Snapchat sharing, it is important to consider if the file is eligible for copyright protection, and if so, whether any defenses apply – for example, a recipent may be able to rely on implied consent to copy the image. If, for example, a certain photograph is eligible for copyright protection, the person who took the photograph – who pressed the shutter – is the person who owns the copyright in that photo. However, not every photograph is eligible for copyright protection, at least under UK law. The protection is based on the involvement of some kind of artistic value. So, ‎if a protected photo was shared in public (e.g. on the Internet) without the consent of the copyright holder this would indeed amount to copyright infringement. If a Snapchat user were to send images of a sexual nature (comforted by their temporary nature), the potential legal ramifications of screenshotting could be even more serious and could involve criminal prosecution. 

The question whether the sender gives implied consent to publish a photograph to other platforms just because she or he shared that image on Snapchat will likely be answered in the negative. As opposed to web pages, for example, a publication on Snapchat does not result in a wide accessibility. After all, the image is only on display for a (very) limited amount of time.

And the Concerns Apply to More Than Snapchat

It goes without saying that these copyright law principles do not only apply to Snapchat but also to images that are (re)shared over other social media networks/messaging apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

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