A major city’s fire brigade has raised eyebrows – by charging newspapers and other media for permission to publish its photographs of incidents.
The unusual decision to charge for pictures taken by firefighters was made by the fire service in the city of Munich in the south-eastern German state of Bavaria.
It came to light after the Munich Fire Brigade was called upon to rescue a kitten which had got stuck in the engine compartment of a car.
During the rescue operation, a firefighter took pictures of his colleagues freeing the unfortunate cat, which subsequently made a complete recovery from its ordeal.
Instead of making the pictures freely accessible for the media – common procedure by emergency services the world over – the Munich Fire Brigade decided to levy a charge per picture for each media outlet which wanted to use them.
In a press release, the fire brigade wrote: “Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to point out that the publication of our photos in print media is subject to a charge.
“The image fee is 25,00 EUR (21.80 GBP) per published image.”
When the Munich Fire Brigade was challenged over the unusual move, it replied that the charge was needed to cover the costs incurred in the process.
A spokesman said: “We make the charge because there is effort involved in making the pictures available to the press and this needs to be paid for.”
British fire brigades were however surprised by the move of their German colleagues and warned that it could curtail the free flow of information.
A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade told Central European News (CEN): “I’ve never heard of this before and we certainly have no plans to charge the press for the usage of our photographs.
“All pictures which we post, mostly via our social media accounts, are available to the media free of charge. We own the copyright as in most cases they were taken by firemen in the performance of their duty and we make them available with a request that the fire service be credited.
“We certainly don’t have any plans to charge because we need the media to cover incidents.
“A big part of what we do is fighting fires in which the bravery of those involved should be highlighted, but also promoting safe practices is also a big part of what we do and for this we also need to work with the press, and not make money out of them.”