There are three grounds for objecting to the use of your photograph on a website: invasion of privacy, infringement on your right to publicity, and defamation.
If you are wrongly and severely offensively represented, privacy invasion may take place. If someone who intruded on you when you had a reasonable expectation of privacy took the picture, that person may have violated your privacy as well. Photographing someone in a public setting or at any event where guests are welcome is not an infringement on their privacy.
A violation of your right to publicity happens when your picture is utilized for profit, such as when it is implied that you support a product’s sale.
Your right to privacy would likely be violated if your photograph was used without your permission on a business website that makes money from its offerings. The public must be able to recognize you in the image as a test.
If the image defames you, which happens when an image gives the wrong impression and harms your reputation, you can also discontinue using the website. The mere fact that an unaltered image is ugly does not qualify as slander. The image must misrepresent you and make people in the neighborhood think poorly of you.
How Do Copyrights Work?
An exclusive right to use and distribute one’s own original creation is known as copyright. The exclusive rights granted to the creator under the Copyright Act include the following:
- Possession of the right to reproduce one’s own work: Possession of the right to make derivative or offshoot works based on the original work
- Public performance of the copyrighted work: Public presentation of the work
Regardless of whether a creator takes action to register or assert copyright, ownership and rights attach at the time of creation. This is distinct from a trademark right, which does not attach absent action from the author to assert it through designation or registration.
A copyright is valid for as long as the creator is alive and for 70 years after their passing. When it happens, the copyright is lost.
If a photographer takes a picture, they own the picture and are the only person who can use, sell, and distribute it, whatever they wish. They do not lose their copyright even if they post the picture online or make it visible to the public. Without the photographer’s express consent, other people are not allowed to redistribute the image or produce a derivative or spinoff from it.
Fair Use: What Is It?
Does this use meet the criteria for fair use? This is one of the most urgent copyright-related queries. We first need to comprehend the fair use doctrine in order to respond to this question. A person who does not own the copyright to a work may use it, or parts of it, without breaking the law if they do so in a way that is reasonable and ethical, does not detract from the value of the work and does not prevent them from making the kind of money that the owner would reasonably expect. This is known as “fair use.”
However, the theory of fair use has some restrictions and cannot be used arbitrarily to utilize a copyrighted image. Instead, in order to evaluate whether the use of a copyrighted photograph comes within the fair use exception, four important considerations must be taken into account:
- Is the photo being used for a charitable, educational, journalistic, scientific, or research endeavor?
- Is the photo fact-based or public content?
- How much of the image, such as a thumbnail or low-resolution image, will be used?
- Is relying on fair usage required, given that no one can buy or license the image?
In addition to fair usage, some photos are completely exempt from copyright restrictions. These comprise photographs in the public domain, those that may be found on a website offering royalty-free content, or images for which the copyright owner has specifically given permission for usage.
Directives for Image Use Legally
Effective internet content requires images. They visually break up lengthy text passages, clarify content, and enhance user experience. Even so, correct picture usage is necessary to prevent copyright breaches. Use pictures from the following places in compliance with the law:
Images in the public domain do not have copyrights because they either never had one, the copyright has expired, or the image was published before 1924. Images in the public domain are identified as such and do not require attribution or citation in their use.
The creators of Creative Commons photos make them available to the public. Thanks to the Creative Commons license, creators can share their work so that others can use it. Pay close attention to the license that applies to the image you desire to use because some Creative Commons photographs can be used for commercial purposes while others cannot.
Free Images for Stock
Free stock photographs from various sources are one of the best ways to guarantee you have a lot of images for your law practice website and marketing materials. The most well-known websites providing free, downloadable pictures without copyright protection are as follows:
- One of the busiest stock photo websites, Flickr features both professional and amateur photography.
- Pixels provides downloadable images and videos without asking for credit.
- Without creating an account, you can download high-quality pictures from Pixabay.
- StockSnap.io offers thousands of downloadable images, and thousands more are added weekly.
- Over 40,000 photographers contribute to the over 200,000 photographs on Unsplash.
- Burst, a Shopify-related resource, offers stock photographs; some are copyright-protected and require a license to use.
Paying for Stock Images
You are more likely to find what you’re looking for on paid stock photo websites because they have access to more images than free stock photo websites do. Be aware that the license you purchase to use the image will restrict your use to certain conditions, so carefully study it to be sure you can use it as you need.
Some of the top websites for purchasing stock photographs are listed below:
- One of the biggest websites is Getty Images, which has over 80 million images and graphics.
- One of the greatest websites if you’re looking for a particular image is iStock.
- Cutcaster is a well-organized pay-per-use stock photo website that makes getting the precise image you’re looking for simple.
- If you utilize a lot of photographs, Fotolia is a subscription service that can help you save money.
You can request the creator’s consent to use their picture or photo if you want to. Instead of receiving broad permission to use the photo in any way, you are more likely to receive “specific” permission to use it in a specific, constrained manner. To avoid misunderstandings or accusations of copyright infringement, you should submit a written request for permission to the copyright owner. A minor photographer’s license can be revoked. Therefore be sure the parent or legal guardian approves it.
If My Image is Being Used, Should I Get Legal Advice?
You may wish to speak with a lawyer about a potential lawsuit if a website is using your image without your consent and the use of your image meets the criteria for invasions of privacy, violations of your right to publicity, or defamation. The guidance of a copyright lawyer may help establish the extent to which your rights have been violated and what legal choices you have because these areas are frequently complex.