Today is #PitLife for the #TarGramChallenge, and as you are taking pictures and blasting them on the Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, we wanted to make sure that you were thinking about some of the legal issues that came up when posting those photographs.
When you take a picture without someone’s permission, the subject being photographed generally has no copyright interest in the photo, so you as the photographer are likely the copyright holder. However, other legal issues may arise.
When you actually take the photograph, you may be invading someone’s privacy. If you get the subject’s permission, then you are not invading their privacy. If you surreptitiously take a picture of someone inside of their house, you may have invaded that person’s privacy. Even in public, you have some, but not much, expectation of privacy. We don’t expect that when we go outside that a photo of us will wind up as an advertisement, and we shouldn’t. The location of where the photo was taken matters.
Where are you posting the photographs? Every social media platform you use, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, all have their own terms and conditions of what they can do with the photograph. Some of them make sense, like the ability to copy the photo, because the technology requires them to make copies of the photographs, so you can share them or view them on different platforms. Facebook’s policy states “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.” So, even if you delete the photograph, the photograph may still be living on Facebook without your knowledge. Since you granted Facebook a license on the original posting, they have a contractual right to keep the photo available until everyone deletes the content from their respective accounts. If your post went viral, good luck getting everyone to take it down.
Now, you have taken the photo, read the terms and conditions, and posted the photo. So, what happens when you realize that someone has posted the photo without your permission? Well, you can do a DMCA Takedown notice, which lets a website know that someone has posted your photograph without their permission and you want it taken down. You have to do a DMCA takedown notice for every website where your image appears. Thankfully some websites, like Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Twitter have easy ways to let them know that your copyright has been violated.
If you have any questions about photographs or anything else, come see us in the Scholarly Communications Office!