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Online Photos: Taken and Posted Without Your Permission

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Let's be honest: even photos taken with your consent can cause stress when they show up online. But if someone snapped a picture with you in the background or without asking your permission first, it might leave you asking, “Do I have the right to tell them to take this down?"

Whether it is a bar photo that shows you letting loose, a photo with a bad review of you at work, or a family gathering with pictures of your minor children, photos taken and posted without your permission can be worrying. You may want to have these pictures taken down right away. Perhaps you think you can threaten the original poster with a lawsuit.

The actions you can take depend on many factors. The article below outlines some of the top aspects to consider and can help guide you toward an attorney if you have a case.

In Most Instances, You Won't Have a Case

Unfortunately, while these photos on Facebook or other sites may be uncomfortable and frustrating, the poster is likely protected from legal action to remove them. The First Amendment protects their right to share the images they want.

A Friend or Family Member Posted Your Photo

If a friend or family member took the photo, your best course of action may be to politely ask them to take it down. Often, these images are taken on someone's private property (such as at their house) where they do have the right to take images of you.

By agreeing to be on their property, you are giving them some rights to your presence. Also, suing them would likely result in such small damages that it may not cover the attorney fees needed to handle the case.

A Stranger Posted Your Photo

This can get complicated. If a stranger takes photos on public property, such as at a park or on a city street, you are giving your consent by being in a public area. If someone you do not know takes pictures of you on private property, you may have some rights according to the rules of the private property.

If a stranger — such as a privately hired surveillance person or a nosy neighbor — takes pictures of you while you are on your own property, you may want to research invasion of privacy or speak with an attorney about the details. However, it is legal to take pictures of your house — such as pictures of your Christmas lights — if you are not in the photo.

An Event Venue or Bar Posted Your Photo

If the image was taken at an event, concert, restaurant, or bar, then the rules of the event venue or location may apply. Often these events have photo policies in place such as a bar crawl warning participants that they will have photographers taking event photos throughout the night.

Sometimes, contacting management to take event images off their Facebook page or website may be enough. However, if the image is being used to make money, such as on a poster or event invite, then you may have some legal recourse.

Advertisements Are Using Your Photo

If you suddenly spot your photos on an ad campaign, print ad, or any online ads, then you should take legal action. You have rights regarding the “commercial use" of your image if a person or business is making money from your image.

Bad Comments or Content With Your Photo

There is a chance your image could be used to make fun of you, show you in a bad light on purpose, or be paired with cruel comments. You can investigate your state's laws on bullying, cyber bullying, libel, defamation, or false light to learn more.

Take Action If You Feel Wronged by a Photo

If you feel strongly that an image of you or how you have been depicted in the public eye is inappropriate, then speaking with an attorney during an initial consultation is the best place to start. They will listen carefully to the details of the situation, review the case, advise you on the likely outcome of pursuing a case, and help you decide your next steps.

The content of the images has an impact on what type of attorney can best help you. If any of the following situations apply, these links can help you find the right attorney for you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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