When Can Someone Post Photos Of You Online?

My Camera by Paul Reynolds

I’ve had a few people ask me about the legalities of posting pictures of other people online. I thought I’d tackle the most common issue with photographs – whether you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. I’m not going to get into commercializing a person’s image or misrepresenting a person. I’m only addressing whether someone can post a picture that they took of you on their Facebook page, blog, Flickr, etc.

No Pants Light Rail Ride 2012 by Devon Christopher Adams

Pictures of You in Public
You have no expectation of privacy in anything you do in public. This includes where you go and what you do while you’re there. For example, I just got an adorable basset hound named Rosie. We take walks every day. I have no expectation of privacy regarding where we walk, what I’m wearing when I walk her, or how I react when she pulls on the leash. That’s all in plain view for everyone to see. Anyone can take a picture of us and post it online, preferably with a caption that says, “Sassy lady and her awesome dog,” and there’s nothing I can do about it (as long as they’re not misrepresenting me or commercializing my image without my consent).

If you’re in a public place and someone snaps a picture of you while you’re falling down drunk, getting arrested, picking your nose, scowling at a crying baby, or not wearing pants, there’s probably nothing you can do if that picture shows up online somewhere.

The exception to this rule is you have an expectation of privacy in places like public bathroom stalls, changing rooms, tanning salons, and doctor’s offices that may require you to be partially or completely undressed.

Pictures of You in Private Venues
When pictures are taken of you at a private event or in someone’s private home, you have to ask whether you had an expectation of privacy in each particular situation. If you attend a party where there are no rules regarding photos and everyone has their cameras out, you have no expectation of privacy if someone takes a photo of you and puts it in their online album.

Some events come with ground rules regarding photos that could create an expectation of privacy. I had a friend in college who had a Decorate Your Nipples theme party where everyone had to decorate their chest. Some people put decorations on their shirts and some people opted to decorate their skin. The rule for that party was that no cameras were allowed except during the designated picture time. At picture time, all the photos were limited to one room. If you didn’t want any photographic documentation of your being at that party, you had to go to the no-camera room.

There may be activities where there are no specified rules about photographs, but where the nature of the event or activity gives you an expectation of privacy. For example, if you and your partner make a sex tape or take intimate pictures of each other, there’s an inherent expectation that no one beside you two would see them. If you break up, your partner can’t post the pictures online and protect themselves by saying that you never agreed to keep them private.

When it comes to the question, “Can I post pictures of other people online?,” the answer is always, “It depends.” My general rule of thumb is “Don’t do anything in public that you wouldn’t put on the front page of the paper.” When it comes to photographs, the same rule generally applies because you might end up in a situation where you had an expectation of privacy but someone posted a picture of you online that they shouldn’t have. You might have a case against the jerk who posed it, but you still have to deal with the possibility that a lot of people saw a photo of you that they should have never seen.

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  1. Patrick McLeod says:

    Well stated. 

    • Thanks Patrick!

      • Australian Hairdressers are raping clients by taking photos of them and their hair after a visit to the salon.
        They are turning a private and confidential visit to the hair salon into a public display on facebook, EXPOSING their clients to abuses and harms, and Australian women are now preparing to sue such hairdressers to the hilt.
        I visit a salon in a private capacity. I am a private person.
        I pay to visit and have my hair attended to.
        I donot visit a salon to become an object of promotion advertising or to be at the mercy of the hair dresser who thinks they can splash my image all over the world.
        What I will do along with other clients who object to such rape and infringement of privacy is sue any salon for all they’ve got.
        Hint to Hairdressers:
        Put your cameras and camera phones away or you will keep losing business.
        Please respect my privacy if you value me as a person and client.

        • I wonder how the Australian law differs from U.S. laws. I’m not sure if “rape” is the right word but I can definitely respect that salon patrons may feel like their privacy has been invaded and possibly being used to promote the salon without their permission.

        • Rape? really you are comparing a picture of your hair to rape? why don’t you say when they take the camera out you don’t want them to take a picture. I’m sorry but I wasn’t able to tell my rapist don’t do it because I was to busy screaming for help so grow up…..if you don’t want your picture taken tell the stylist and don’t allow it but don’t compare it to rape!

  2. crysohara says:

    So friends and I have a case against all the websites that took a private photo and made it viral?  Yes there is a picture that went viral and we have MANY friends ask about it.

  3. Sherry Snider says:

    I wondered about that.  I saw the interview you did on copyright infringement on Pinterest.  I kept wondering why the reporter didn’t mention model releases in relation to owning photos you take.  Just because I own a snapshot that I took doesn’t mean that I would or should post it without the consent of folks in the picture. 

    I guess I tend to err on the side of caution.  i.e. “Would I want that photo posted if I were in it?”  Even when I’m sure folks are cool with me posting the pics online, I don’t tag them.  Again…err on the side of caution.  :-)

  4. Anyhousecleaning says:

    Good to know, thanks

  5. Kimsjohnston says:

    I have a humorous blog about my ex husband – (most think it is humorous – he doesn’t) I don’t give his last name at all. I put a photo of us together on the blog and know he says he is going to sue me.  I had my artist draw a cartoon of him with his head on a platter also…….

  6. loserpicker says:

    This is a great site with helpful information – thank you. I wonder though if the same applies if someone sends private, compromising pictures of you directly to specific people, like your friends, co-workers, family, etc. Yeah, he’s a class act, that one.

    • These types of cases have to be evaluated on an individual basis, but I think there’s a potential invasion of privacy issue depending on what’s on the pictures and who you could expect to see them.

  7. How about just taking a random picture of your step-daughter sitting on her Uncle’s lap driving his truck. And now his girlfriend is throwing a hissy fit about it but she doesn’t publicize their life. Is there anything breaking the law with that or just some stupid pathetic person just wanting to cause trouble?

    • If you’re really concerned, show the picture to an attorney. They’ll probably have a discussion with you about whether your step-daughter had an expectation of privacy when you took the photo and whether you might be commercializing the girl’s image. There’s no expectation of privacy for anything anyone does in public.

  8. Law Abiding Citizen says:

    I have a landlord in the State of Florida that I am in the process of exposing his irresponsibility to maintain the building where I live. I took a picture of him while he came and collected rent and I am giving him a bad review on a very dependable site where you can review all type of businessess. Can he do anything about his picture being posted?

    • You should consult an attorney in your community about this photograph. If a client came to me with such a photo and plan, some of the questions I would have are “Is this picture an accurate depiction of what you claim it is?” and “Did this person have an expectation of privacy when this photo was taken or regarding its distribution?”

  9. What about when another person takes picture of your children and posts it online without your permission? Even when you have asked/told this person to not do so?

    • I can’t give legal advice via this blog. You should talk with an attorney about your specific situation. Whether you can stop someone from taking and/or posting pictures of your children may come down to the details of the situation and whether the person had to obtain your consent.

  10. Thank you very much for this information. I have been searching for an answer for this from a reputable source for some time, and popular “answer” sites have just not been helpful 😉

    I have a question if you would be so kind as to give your opinion. I do, however, realize and fully understand that I cannot seek or expect legal advice from you and this is strictly an “informational response” or “opinion” only. I also realize many of these questions are on a situational basis. I am only seeking an opinion for personal knowledge in hopes to find a general idea before seeking advice from an attorney.

    Now that that’s out of the way…. 😉

    What is your opinion on a situation where you would be posting pictures online to “poke fun” at one’s physical appearence or something the person may not have control over? For example, if i were out in public, in a completely non expectation of privacy situation, and i were to see someone perhaps “obeese” or one whom society would consider or deem less atractive than the next, could i snap a picture to post online with a particularly demeaning caption? Or perhaps even without a caption (would that make a difference)? Of course, it would remain completely anonymous, no names or personal information would be posted or associated with the picture.

    On a lighter note, this question is not for an idea or concept that is near as terrible as it sounds. I admit, it sounds potentially hurtful or almost down the alley of a sort of “cyber-bullying” concept, but I assure you it is not, and I do take cyber-bullying as a very serious matter. But it is hard to ask this question without completely exposing the idea, so I apologize for that.

    Thank you very much for your time and any potential information or light you can shed on this question. I very much appreciate your time dedicated to this site and readers alike.

    • It sounds like you might want to consult an attorney review the specific details of your idea before proceeding. As you know, I don’t give legal advice via blog comments. If someone was posting pictures of people they see in public, I would wonder if they were crossing the line into commercializing a person’s image or an invasion of privacy situation.

  11. Well, This sort of Helped. Do i have a right if some kid on the bus was taking pictures of me then posting them on facebook when I TOLD HIM TO DELETE THEM! I DONT WANT PICS OF ME ONLINE!

    • If you were in public, you have no expectation of privacy. If the kid wanted to be a disrespectful punk and post a picture of you without your consent, there’s a good chance you have no recourse because what he did wasn’t illegal. There may be a state law where you live that says otherwise or there may be more to the story that would lead to you having a claim. You’d have to contact an attorney in your community to have the specifics of your case evaluated.

  12. My ex posted intimate sexual photos that he took of me when we were in a relationship. he then posted them on an ameateur porn website without my permission, revealing my identity to anyone. has he commited a crime>? He is manipulative and controlling and abusive and has a history of domestic abuse toward women.

    • If it’s a crime, it’s probably a state level crime. You should contact the police or an attorney in your community to discuss your options. You may want to contact the site too and report that your image was posted without your consent and request that they remove them.

      • Adrian Adams says:

        ok im currently going through this…what would be the name of this crime so i can see if my state has it

        • It can be classified under many different areas – obscenity, sex crimes, harassment, illegal communications, etc. It’s not your job to identify what the crime is – just report it and let the authorities determine what the crime is based on their investigation.

        • A guy I was dating posted intimate photos of me sleeping and also posted graffiti photos that I sent to him. What are my rights regarding the photos he took while I was sleeping, seeing as I was photographed without my knowledge or consent. Also what are my rights regarding the photos I sent to him? Have I waived all rights because I sent them to him? Also I shoudl mention that he is s semi famous “pick up artist” on YouTube. He is now usuing my personal photos to promote his business. Is there not something protecting me from someone using these photos to promote their business?

          • Ruth Carter says:

            Hi Hannah – It sounds like you need to contact a lawyer in your community (I see you have a Canadian email address). There may be issues related to copyright, privacy, and publicity among other things. The laws on these issues vary from country to country and state to state.

  13. Calyn Leake Zeiger says:

    Thank you for posting this. Is the same true for children? I am specifically wondering about pictures taken at the park. I have a family blog and I post a lot of pictures on. They generally only contain my children or husband, but if the contain children my kids are playing with do I need to be blurring faces or choosing shots they aren’t looking in or something?

  14. Michael says:

    What about people posting a picture of you on a contest? For example, a local radio station is doing a contest to nominate your Mom for super mom of the year. Since it isn’t the mom herself posting it, is it legal?

  15. CCRACInv says:

    “For example, if you and your partner make a sex tape or take intimate pictures of each other, there’s an inherent expectation that no one beside you two would see them. If you break up, your partner can’t post the pictures online and protect themselves by saying that you never agreed to keep them private.”

    What law is this covered by? Please provide Penal Code if possible.

    • You’d have to look at your state’s laws to determine what the applicable laws are. You might want to look for civil and criminal laws regarding privacy, obscene material, and electronic communications. I recommend contacting a lawyer in your community for explicit guidance.

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  17. Here is a random question for you: I owned a camera that was stolen from me 2 years ago. I recently received an email fromt the new owner who purchased it on ebay. He tracked me down via the photos on the camera! Well, I was expecting a nice exchange on how I could purchase it back from him and the next thing I know he has posted the photos from the memory card on Facebook! He had done this before he even knew who I was because he thought they were interesting. I asked him to please remove them and he is refusing. Do I have any legal rights? We are both in the US. HELP!

    • Oh that’s an interesting situation! Definitely sounds like you need to schedule a consultation with a lawyer to discuss possible ways to address this situation.

  18. I have a weird situation. A picture of me was taken off my Facebook from a person who is not a friend in life or on Facebook (I keep my profile very private). She posted my picture on a website about people who are “homewreckers.” Needless to say she posted very inappropriate things and some things that are not true. I don’t really want to get into all the details. I’m worried that this could hurt my career and I’m very embarrassed for anyone to read this. She did not have permission to take my photo. I have written the website four times asking them to take it down but they haven’t yet nor have they contacted me back. I live in Texas. Can you give me some advice? Is this legal? Can I do anything about it?

  19. LaLa Peters says:

    A former friend of mine used to be my maid of honor and I asked him if he could do some photos back in the beginning of 2013 for my save the date cards and my invitations since he’s an aspiring photographer. We had a verbal agreement that these photos would not be used for his business (I did some other photos before that he was allowed to use.) I recently fired him from being my maid of honor due to lack of commitment and now he’s posted these photos on his photography facebook page that promotes his business. He’s even put his “watermark” on them. Is this grounds to contact a lawyer?

  20. FlyForFood says:

    I would like to post photos of drivers that are texting. I’m not seeking them out, I just see the so frequently, it would warrant posting their image on a website. I won’t be the person taking photos if I’m driving as that would be just as dangerous. If they are driving on a public road, is it legal to take their photo and upload it to an online site?

    • That’s pretty funny – similar to people who post pictures of people’s bad parking. You may want to talk with a lawyer about the privacy, defamation, and commercialization issues related to your idea and if you’re going to be driving when you take this photos, the issues that come with taking photographs while driving.

  21. Is there anything I can do if my ex-boyfriend has been stalking me (finding out my school schedule by making a school email and saying they need my schedule since the system is down) – he did that about 2 years ago… and if he is still obsessed over me and posting pictures of me with him on instagram? keeps spreading rumors and trying to add me on facebook with making different accounts even after I told him many times to leave me alone…

    • Call an attorney and/or the police to discuss your options.

    • Oh, he also tattooed my full name on his back after we stopped talking.. I only talked with him for about a month and he became like this……. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have money and I’m struggling a lot cause many bad things happened to me. I’m trying to recover now and stay positive.

      • I’m sorry you’re in a tough situation. You can seek out domestic violence services and call the police probably at no charge to you. Check with your local court to see if they have a program that helps people in your situation where they can’t afford a lawyer.

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  23. Honkey McWhitey says:

    what about when it comes to children> ie: People posting pictures of someones children without expressed permission?

  24. Whats the legal aspect of it when somebody else posts pictures of children online ?

    As in: My estranged father posting pictures of my children without my permission…..

    • That’s probably a question you want to take to an attorney in your community who is knowledgeable your state’s law on this issue and who can advise you based on the specific details of your situation.

      • lol, I figured that was the answer. most lawyers here (FL) want an arm and a leg to do anything. But ill see what free advice I can find without a retainer . thanks again :)

    • I am having problems getting anything done. My biological father gave me up at a young age and signed me up for adoption. My birth certificate no longer has his name on it. He keeps posting pics of me as a child and stalks me on social media sites trying to get pics of my kids. It is straight up harassment and terrorizing. How can I get it stopped without hiring an attorney?

  25. Hello, im creating a website for our schools football games and im making it wear people can post pictures to the gallery, im wondering if there is any law about people posting pictures to your site. And i would like to take pictures and record our games aswell. Is there any rules i should know about? Thankyou for your time.

    • It sounds like you may want to consult an attorney to discuss the risks that come with allowing others to post material on your site and how to protect yourself using the law and by having an attorney draft your site’s terms of service.

  26. Pedro Albuquerque says:

    What about when a picture I took of myself ends up online and other people start using it?

    • If you took the photo, you own the copyright in it and can control when/where it is copied and displayed. It sounds like you may want to consult an attorney to discuss the details of the situation and to possibly explore your options for recourse.

  27. Lizette van Wyk says:

    I have a problem, a woman a know posted really bad pictures of me to face book, and its open for public view, these were taken at my home, I feel it is a invasion of my privacy, I find them extremely embarrassing and degrading and I believe that insulting me is her intention behind these pictures. I reported it to face book, they do not remove pictures, I asked this woman to please respect my request and delete these pictures, she simply refuses. What do I do? These picture portray a image of me, that is false and it was taken during a really bad time in my life, I was sick on some of them, tired on others, and in my pj’s looking my worst ever.

  28. I have a query. I was in a public car testing centre where I took a picture of my car i.e. the car was the subject of the photo. The mechanic approached me afterwards and said that he would sue me if I did not delete the photo. I had no problem with this however I had already sent it so it was gone from my phone. I can’t even remember if he was in the photo or not. Does he have a case to sue me if the photo was never published?

    • These situations are always fact specific – both regarding the what actually happens and what laws apply. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney in your community to discuss the specifics of your situation.

  29. I have been communicating via email for quite sometime with someone and now all communications have stopped due to his gf, he has now threatened to sue me if I show any emails or pictures, can he do this?? (he is on tv also) I haven’t shown anyone or anything! We BOTH have sent very intimate pics also. I don’t know if I should get an attorney or not? He left me a pretty threatening voicemail

  30. Wlstorytakedown says:

    Recently, a twitter account has come about called wlpartystories. They begun by posting pictures of high schoolers that were passed out, partially nude, making out, or puking. After telling them that if they do not take down a picture of me that I will take legal action due to section 512 of the digital millennium copyright act saying that this is infringement since they did not get consent before posting the picture. They continue to post these pictures that people send in but now say that if someone wants a picture taken down of them just to ask. Thousands of people have already seen these photos before they are taken down though. Is it legal for this twitter account to post pictures of people at parties at people’s homes that other people send in to them? I would like to get this twitter account shut down before they can post anymore pictures. What can I do?

    • If you think an account violates Twitter’s terms of service, report it to Twitter.

      A lot people don’t understand that just because they are in a photo, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily can control where it appears on the internet. Being in a photo doesn’t not mean that you own it so there are lots of instances where someone doesn’t like where their picture is showing up online but there’s nothing they can do about it. These situations are fact specific so it’s best to consult a lawyer in your community to determine what your rights and options for recourse are.

  31. Can I take travel photos that have people in them and then put the photos onto postcards that I sell online?

  32. Curious Photographer says:

    I enjoy taking photos and am getting ready to post some of my work to a website. I have some photos of individuals in the public who have randomly spot posed for me but I have no idea who these people are. Can you please define the difference and liability for use of these for Commercialization, editorial use, and posting such a shot as fine art for sale or using it as a portfolio shot.
    Thank you!

    • You should schedule an appointment to discuss this with an attorney but here’s some basic information.

      If a photographer shoots a person when they are out in public and they share as if to say, “Look I took a neat photo,” there are few problems.

      If a photographer is selling prints or using the photo to market their services (including in a portfolio), that may be crossing the line into commercialization where a model release may be required.

      You’d have to have a lawyer evaluate the photos in question to know how the law applies to your photos.

  33. What if its explicit pictures of you that you no longer want them to have and the threaten you with exposing them on a media service such as Facebook ?

  34. maxine mas says:

    Mass gathering motorcycle event private property in NY, can I post photo’s of other people on face book in my albums set on my friends only. No Nudity

    No drugs, No sex just having fun, Is there a place I can check on laws.

    • I can’t give legal advice since you’re not my client and I don’t know all the details of the situation. But if a client came to me with this question I’d want to know how private of an event was it, whether people knew they were being photographed, what the photos will be used for, and what was the likelihood that anyone would be upset if the images showed up on Facebook (not that being upset means that anything is necessarily legally wrong).

    • maxine mas says:

      Huge event thousands I have been attending for decades, every other person is taking photo’s and video on cameras. I know I’m allover the internet it does not bother me it promotes the event. Thousands of photo’s I have can never be posted.

  35. Wendy J Scinta says:

    My daughters ex took nude pics of her and now they are broken up. He is threatening to post the pics on different sites… Can my daughter press charges for the threat? Or if he does post the pics?

  36. A friend took pictures of my wife’s band for promotional purposes. She gave them free and clear with no limitations of any kind. Now she is threatening a law suit if we continue to use them.

    • Ugh – It’s because of situations like that it’s so important to have everything in a contract. Otherwise at best you have to piece together the agreement from emails, or worse, be in a he said/she said situation.

  37. I was at a male friend’s apartment and his roommate took a photo of me, without my knowledge, and submitted it to a webpage that makes it seems as if I was hooking up with one of them and had stayed beyond my welcome. If the website refuses to take it down do I have any course of action against the guy who posted it?

    • Maybe…you should meet with a lawyer in your community to discuss the details of the situation and to see if the applicable laws give you any recourse. You may also want to read the website where the photo is posted terms of service to see if they have provision specifically about your situation.

  38. robertaruth says:

    Good to know. I wish I’d thought of that yesterday. Two nasty little boys around 9 years old climbing a delicate specimen tree in Centrals Park, and refused to get down when I asked nicely and explained why. Woman (aunt) just stood there and smirked. I should have taken their pictures and posted on Facebook. If I see them again, I will — be warned little spoiled brats and clueless auntie.

  39. My mother who I no longer get along with recently posted pictures of my 2 year old daughter on Facebook, along with videos that I am in. She did this purely out of spite for me not wanting anything more to do with her and refuses to take them down. No permission was given to upload them and they are also public, so anybody can see them. Is there anything I can do? I have already contacted Facebook and made reports, the reports just force you to message her to ask for removal and Facebook haven’t been in contact with me yet.

  40. someoneworried says:

    A girl sent me pictures of herself via text, now she is asking me to erase them, I originally told her no they were a gift, shes saying i better erase them. Now she is saying thats fine she knows where I live. Now she has me worried, cause I dont know if shes gonna make false allegations, or what the hell that meant.


    • These cases are always fact-specific. If you have concerns you should schedule a consultation with a copyright and/or internet attorney in your community who can give you advice specific to your situation.

  41. Anonymous says:

    A classmate of mine took a picture of me in class with out my premission and I asked him to delete it and he said that he did. Later a neighbor showed me on the bus that some one else posted the same picture online. Can I sue the classmate?

    • These types of cases are always fact specific. You’d have to meet with an attorney in your community who can review all the facts before they would know if you have a case.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Thank you.

  43. regretJB says:

    my ex is threatening to post sexually explicit pics of me. what preventative action or recourse do I have?

  44. Richard Sandberg says:

    Very classic blogs I’ve never seen to any site.No Win No Fee Solicitors

  45. So my sister was tagged in a picture on Facebook that she was not aware was taken of her and depicted her.. in short as an alcoholic (she had 3 mixed drinks in front of her at a bar, but they were not all hers). She is upset about the picture being put up without her being aware of it and asked them to take it down and they have not. Is it legal for them to take the picture without permission, to post it to Facebook without permission? The photographer claims that the owner asked for him to be there and to take pictures because they were having a birthday party there. Now from my experience at bars, I have always been asked by photographers for permission to take my picture. What should she do?

    • She should schedule an appointment to discuss this situation with a lawyer in her community who is versed on the applicable law and can advise her regarding her options.

  46. What if you wish to post a picture of someone that was taken by themselves? Ie if someone is photographed at a wedding and they post that image online. Are you allowed to copy the image and post it elsewhere? Would it be ok if a copyright notice was posted below it?

    • U.S. Copyright Law says that the person who owns the photo gets to decide where it’s copied and displayed. If you want to use their photo and post it somewhere, you’d need the owner’s permission to avoid the risk of problems.

  47. Pastor says:

    What about churches? I created a video reflecting the history of our church using pictures of past and present members.

    • There are not special laws regarding churches in these situations. These cases are always fact-specific so you should consult an attorney in your community who can review the details of your situation and advise you of any legal risks that might be present.

  48. vanessa says:

    my brothers ex made a profile on a dating site for the same sex and uploaded pics of my son on that website who is 2 years old can i press charges on her

  49. 😉 I found this site it is very cool I don’t have anything to say but

  50. srry was typin stuff

  51. my daughter was at a friends and the friend is related so this girl took a picture and posted it on facebook instagram and tumblr I have a lot of family that who I don’t want her to see or them to see what should I do

    • Ruth Carter says:

      This might be a situation where you don’t have legal recourse but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask the person who posted the photo to remove it. It sounds like the people involved are children so you could also go through the parents to try to get it removed. If you want to know if you have legal recourse, please talk with an attorney in your community.

  52. Kassandra says:

    What if a girl sends a picture or video of herself to an ex boyfriend and the now girlfriend finds it a tells her she’s gonna post her videos she sent her boyfriend

    • These cases are always evaluated on an individual basis based on the facts and which state law applies. If you need legal advice, I recommend contacting a lawyer in your community. If you believe a crime is being committed, contact law enforcement.

  53. Bad Maid says:

    What about my home? I have a disgruntled maid that is mad that I gave her negative feedback regarding her business. She says she is going to sue me for slander and is Private Messaging people pictures of the inside of my home. Do I have any recoarse?

    • These cases need to be evaluated on the full facts of the situation and what laws are in place in your state. You should contact an attorney in your community for assistance.

  54. John Park says:

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  55. We just sold our house to a DIY blogger who has posted several pictures taken while we were still living in the house (they came in to “measure” after under contract. She has posted them as her “before” pictures. All our furniture, pictures, and kids rooms. I am slightly bothered by this. Does she have the right to use them on her blog? Or can I ask her to take them down?

    • These cases need to be evaluated on the facts of the situation and the laws of your state. You should schedule a consultation with a lawyer in your community who can give this scenario the time and attention it needs.

  56. My father in law was at his house when he noticed a nurse next door video taping him and my 2 kids. They were not doing anything that could even be considered wrong. They were playing catch in his driveway.
    Now he is not in a public place and this woman was video taping my children for no reason and no consent is this legal?
    I know in public places it is but don’t you get to play in your own yard with out some perverted freak taping you?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      All of these types of cases need to be evaluated on the facts of the situation and the laws that apply in that state. I recommend you schedule a consultation with an attorney in your community to discuss this situation. If you think you might be a victim of a crime, contact the police.

  57. i work at a big theater and they have a rule, ‘no photos in the auditorium’. so even customers taking ‘selfies’ have to take them in the lobby. If a customer takes a photo or video of me and posts it to facebook or youtube and titling it, “That bitchy usher, gertrude at the wowsville theater”. what are my options? Can i sue them if they won’t remove it? Even if its a flattering comment w/my image, if they refuse to delete it, what can i do?

  58. I have hundreds of random pics on FB. My ex boyfriend sent me a txt saying I don’t have his consent to post his pics. These are from public events for example a marathon and while we were out hiking. I took the pics with my camera they are on my Facebook and he is blocked. Can he demand I take them down?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Just because a person is in a photo, it doesn’t mean they have the ability to control it or that they have any rights regarding it: http://bit.ly/1wzlcyH. You’d have to schedule a consultation with a lawyer to know if your ex has any rights regarding the photos in question. He can always make demands, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the law will help him enforce those demands.

  59. Ok.so my ex boyfriend is sending my private pictures to.all.of my friends and family … he graved my phone and sended a few to his the other where picures we took together as a couple and is there any law that protect s me …

    • Ruth Carter says:

      You can check if your state has a specific law regarding revenge porn here: http://bit.ly/1pTnyGm. You should consult your law enforcement agency or schedule a consultation with a lawyer in your community to discuss your options.

  60. Hi, wonder if posting a pic of sexual predetor on my blog is approipiate? There is a business called “PICK UP ARTIST” rink getting popular in Toronto downtown, that there are Pickup Masters try to charge guys money n show them how to pick up random girls in the busy mall because mall has high concentration of attractive women. I was being approached by the same guy agressively 4 times within a year, also witnessed him trying to pickup my gf who supposed to meet me at mall, he also touched her waist. I called security, they kept asking me t take a photo, so when the 4th time he approached me, I took a few photos and Security caught him, apparently he was one of the main guy operating the rink for couple of years and he has harassed thousands of women like they are just practicing material. So I posted his pic on facebook to warn my pretty gfs, turned out a few of my gfs had encountered him mutiple times too, but I was attacked by male friends saying it’s imporper to post his photo. I wonder if it is legal since I was asked to take photos by mall security and it’s in public space!

    Also 6 month ago, in the same mall some random dude came to harass me “sexual verbally” out of nowhere when I was standing and he would fallow me to continiously make fun of me when I left mall on the streets crying. I eventually took a picture on the street and called police. The police confirmed that it was harassment since he fallowed me and was saying degrating things even though he did not touch me. The guy ran away before police arrived. They asked me for the photos I took. I wonder if its legal to post his photo online on a blog since his photo was taken first in the mall then on the street in the open when I share this store with all the girls.

    • Ruth Carter says:

      You’d have to ask a Canadian attorney to know whether your idea is legal under Canadian law. Based on my knowledge of U.S. law, it sounds like you own the copyright in your photos so you can copy/distribute them as you wish. If I were in this situation, I would try to be extra mindful not to commercialize the individuals’ images or commit defamation.

  61. If I take pics of employees on how slow they work and don’t move fast enough because they talk and on purpose they take longer when I go there because I complain all the time. If I post in FB would I get sue? Can I do that? There is freedom of expression right?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Like many legal questions, the answer to your questions is “It depends.” You’d need to schedule a consultation with a lawyer in your community who can fully examine the situation before giving you reliable advice.

  62. if I ask someone not to post a photo of me, for any reason, can they still do it with -out comeback on them?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      It depends on the situation and what laws apply, but yes, it’s possible that someone can post a photo of you and you will have no recourse.

  63. Recently, this girl who I’ve never spoken to posted a picture of me that she took off of my account. In summary, the caption talked about how she disliked me and many people left comments about what they hate about me. She has since removed the photo, but it’s no use because many people I know have seen it already. Is there any type of law making this an act of cyber bullying? Even though the picture has been removed from her account?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Cyberbullying laws are state level laws. You’ll need to schedule a consultation with a lawyer in your community who can fully review the situation to answer your question.

  64. What if someone has a nude photo of you then post it on facebook? Technically I sent it…and it’s now on my ex girlfriends phone. Is there nothing i can do being that i knowingly sent her the pic?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Posting a nude photo of Facebook likely violates their terms of service. Sharing a photo with someone doesn’t mean they can re-share it with whomever they want. I assume the photo was intended to be for her private enjoyment. If she posts it online, it could be some type of invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, or a violation of your state’s criminal laws depending on whether yo have a law against revenge porn and/or cyberharassment. You should contact a local lawyer to learn more about your options in your situation.

  65. I recently came across my old college alumi page on facebook, were they (in a bit of harmless fun) posting historical photos of students on college grounds and asking you to identify them. Some dodgy ’80’s hair styles and bad outfits all round. My question is, what is the law around this? I wouldn’t personally want my old teenage photo appearing.

    • Ruth Carter says:

      It would depend on the situation but it’s possible that it’s perfectly legal. The fact that you’re in a photo doesn’t necessarily give you any ability to control where it shows up online: http://bit.ly/1rqfkjI.

      • Claire Roper says:

        Thanks Ruth, it’s an interesting topic! I’ve written a blog about the topic, can I quote you and Insert your youtube video? I’m happy to share the blog with you before I publish.

  66. good day! just want to be enlightened. my brother had an argument with his wife on the one of the busiest road in our place. There is no physical harm that happens its just that he want his wife to ride on his car. The wife insisted and started screaming and shouting for help. It happened that their is this one radio journalist who took a photo of my brother and post it in facebook with caption that they are causing public disturbance. Do we have a case to file against that journalist? thanks

    • Ruth Carter says:

      These situations are always fact specific and governed by the laws of your city and state. You’d have to consult an attorney who can examine all the facts of the case and the applicable laws to determine if you have any legal recourse.

  67. i took a picture of my ex. he stole that picture from my phone and emailed it to himself. then he used the same picture on dating sites to pick up other women.

    from what I hear, he uses the SAME photo as his facebook profile page.

    is there anything legal I can do about this?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      These situations are always fact-specific so you it’s best to schedule a consultation with a lawyer in your community who can examine the full situation and discuss what laws apply and what options for repercussion you may have. Since you took the photo, you may have a copyright issue but you’d have to talk with a lawyer to know for sure.

  68. Shannon says:

    Is taking photos from the street of houses and posting them on a blog illegal? For example, if I took a bunch of pics of houses in New Orleans and posted on my blog would it be illegal? I would think not if I can take pics of people in public

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks for the question! Unfortunately I can’t give legal advice via blog comments. But if you’ve read my blog you know that you likely own the copyright in your photos, but you’d need to have a lawyer examine the photos to determine if anyone else has rights related to the images.

  69. Zarah Donnelly says:

    I was in class, and my friend and I were crying about something that really upset us. One person thought we were being ‘stupid losers,’ and his friend proceeded to take a picture of us crying and posted it online. They also made several Tweets about us, posting pictures of us crying, and, according to many people, a video, which they took down shortly after.
    In an instance like this, what should I do?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      You’d have to look at what laws apply to your situation based on where it occurred and the rules of your school.

  70. Our home property was impacted by a city sewer project financed with state and federal funds. The project was devastating to our personal lives, our finances, and left damage to our property. We are now in our sixth year of this. Our home was mortgaged in late 2012 in order to have money to hire an attorney; the money ran out and we are now without an attorney. We still have the problems to work through and are trying to do it alone.

    We need to post documents and photos to the internet. The Office of Open Records Counsel of our state (Tennessee) has advised us as to the posting of documents received through open records but they cannot advise us as to posting project photographs. The photos were taken on our property or on public property and contain images of actual construction, of workers, and of vehicles with city, contractor, sub-contractor information, etc. Recent photographs include a break in the new sewer lines, a sewage spill into the creek, and vehicles and personnel involved in the repair of the break. Finances are so bad now that we are living week to week. We now cannot afford to repair things when they break. Our most recent loss was to our second vehicle; it’s no longer repairable and we can’t afford to replace it. If things do not improve we could lose our home. Posting the photos is not a desire but a need involving the single thing we have left to work with; the project information itself. I need to get a clear answer as to the legal use of the photographs, how to do it in the right way, and how to steer clear of trouble. With our financial situation being what it is, where best to turn for such information? Thank you, Nancy

    • Ruth Carter says:

      It sounds like you’re in Tennessee so you’ll need to consult someone who is versed in Tennessee law. You may want to see if there is a local community legal services office or a chapter of the ACLU in your area that can help.

  71. I recently was contacted by who I believe to be a free-lance photographer. I cannot find any information on him or his company in the US copyright database.

    This is how the story goes:

    I was a competing in an event held in a privately owned business and this photographer snapped pictures of me and several other individuals in the tournament/event. Later I found my photo published on the designated website for the event. I then saved the image of myself, removed the watermark on the image and uploaded it as my Facebook profile picture. The photographer contacted me about a month after and was understandably not happy that I removed the watermark and did not pay him for the picture.

    I will tell you that I believe I did wrong him and made arrangement for payment of the photo, however, I am curious if I actually did violated his copyright rights to the image. He did not obtain my consent to use the image to promote his business (he was not a sponsor at the event) under the gallery tab of the designated website. I did not use his image for a monetary gain.

    While I did actually end up paying for the image, did I have any rights to a photo of myself and did I in-fact infringe on his rights to the image?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      You would need to hire an attorney to examine all the facts of the situation to determine if photography was allowed at the event and what rights the photographer got in the images they took.

      In general, a person who owns a copyright in a work has the exclusive right to control where their work is copied and displayed. By taking the image and using it without permission could constitute copyright infringement.

      Additionally, just because you’re in a photo does not mean that you have rights to use the image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iub_XHjEUfo.

  72. My boyfriend sent me a nude photo does that become my property?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Great question – if someone sends you a photo, all you own is a copy of the photo. You don’t own the copyright in it unless they transferred that to you in writing. So that means you can keep the image but you can’t post it online or share it with others without permission. This video may help – some asked if they could post the naked photos that someone was sending to their husband: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eZY1PPf2i0.

  73. I shared personal pictures with a person but never gave them permission to distribute. They are not advertising anything or claiming my identity, but I let him know I’m not okay with him posting my pictures openly. These aren’t g rated, and I’m afraid a potential employer might fire me/not hire me over this.

    Can he legally post my pictures to Facebook?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      The person who owns the copyright in a photo gets to decide if/where they are posted online. If this person won’t remove these photos upon request, you may want to make an appointment with a copyright/internet lawyer to determine what rights you have related to these images and what are your best options for getting them removed.

  74. Hi .
    I belonged to a “Secret” Group on Facebook for discussions that we did not want to make “Public”.. that was in 2012.. I posted some family photos in the group at the time. I since left the Group .
    I was very upset to see the Group has nor gone “Public” and my family photos are still there which I do not want..
    I did contact the Admin of the group ( which I am not friends with anymore ) and asked her could she kindly remove my Photos as I did not give my permission for them to be made Public… She has refused .
    What can I do .. I think she as Admin.. could be liable !

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated

    • Ruth Carter says:

      I’m sorry you’re upset but here’s my 2 cents on your situation.

      #1 – Unfortunately, there’s no expectation of privacy in anything you post online: http://bit.ly/1F1wRWk. And there’s nothing to stop a group admin from changing a group from Secret to Public.
      #2 – The Admin has no legal obligation to remove the images, though it’s the nice thing to do.
      #3 – Since you were the one who posted the photos initially, I’d explore your options to delete them yourself.

      If you want a full legal analysis of your situation, make an appointment a social media attorney who can fully examine the situation and describe all your options.

  75. Hi
    I recently had some photos of my daughter taken by a photographer in a shopping mall. I discussed with them prior to having the photos taken that I did not want the photos on facebook or used for advertising and they agreed and crossed out the permission to post on Facebook and use in advertising section on the terms and conditions. They also wrote ‘no Facebook’ in the notes. I have just seen a picture of my daughter on their Facebook page. I go to view the photos tomorrow where they will try and sell me a package. What are my rights here? Would it reasonable to ask for photos free of charge since they have breached the contract I signed? I’m really not happy as we don’t want photos of our baby in the public domain and took the appropriate steps to prevent it.

    • Ruth Carter says:

      I can’t give legal advice on this forum, but you may want to start by bringing your problem to the manager. If they don’t rectify the situation, then you might want to talk with a lawyer in your community about your options.

  76. Heather says:

    Question: When a friend who is a photographer does a photoshoot at a park for you for pay, but never has you sign an agreement allowing them to post your pictures online, especially if the children in the pictures with you are not your (photos a surprise gift for their parents) children and then they post pics on FB or their website of those children, is that legal? When I asked her if she was going to post them she said no, and I reminded her that she would need their parent’s approval to post the ones with the children in them, however since then there has been “drama” and she has been a bit spiteful. At this point, the friendship is not my main focus, I want to protect the privacy of the children (again, not mine) online. Are there specific laws about that?

    • Ruth Carter says:

      You’d have to check your state laws on that one. This is why having a written contract is so important.
      In many cases, the photographer owns the copyright but the subject (or their guardian if the photos are of a child) controls the right to publicity. There may be additional state rules about posting photos of children depending on where you live. If the parents want to know what rights they have at this point, they should call a lawyer in their community.

  77. BeyondTickedoffinSC says:

    Can I post pictures of an 18 year old Male that has emotional and physically abused my 13 year old daughter? By post, I mean on Facebook and on street corners It seems that the laws in my state are on his side and nothing will ever happen to him. (We know of 3 other little girls he has ruined their lives)

    • Ruth Carter says:

      Tricky question – it depends on what you want to say. You may want to consult a lawyer to understand your dos and don’ts since this person has not been convicted.

  78. Can i get into trouble by posting photos of my 86yr old mother and her twin’s birthday with her great grandchildren and their father.The mother and father are divorced,the father has custody at the moment.The father has given permission but the mother hasn’t.

  79. My co-worker took a picture of me sleeping at work and posted it on the Internet. Is this illegal ? I feel violated and disrespected.

    • Ruth Carter says:

      I understand why you feel disrespected and violated, but what your co-worker did might not be illegal. You’d have to check the laws of your state and the rules of your workplace.

  80. Good stuff, happy to have found this post!

    Q – if someone took your photo, say at a wedding or some other private event, can the photographer post the photo on their website without permission?

    Thank you!

    • Ruth Carter says:

      I suspect the rules regarding photos taken at a private event can be found in the contract between the photographer and the couple that hired him/her. It’s a private event so their rules apply and by attending, you’re agreeing to those rules, even if you don’t know all of them.

      When I write contracts for photographers, I usually include a provision that says he/she can use any image they take for the client for promotional/marketing purposes – which would extend to being on the photographer’s website. It’s expected that a professional photographer will be at a wedding and that the images will be online later so if you have any objections to this, you should say something prior to the event.

  81. I just found out that an ex from almost 9 years go has posted some private pictures of me online the most recent was posted this year, but it is almost 9 years old. he placed them on body part rating sites. what can I do it was posted in October of this year. I’ve contacted the site and they wont take it down. please help. after all he has done to me I hoped I could just forget about him then I found some lady posted tem in a chat room pretending they where hers, and I recognized them immediately.

    • Ruth Carter says:

      It sounds like you should talk with an attorney in your community who can analyze your situation using the applicable state and federal laws to explain your options to you.

  82. Is it a felony to post a pic of someone else’s baby and say it was urs but posted the wrong pics but u took them down when they asked u to what is the charge for that .

  83. If hubby put sexually explicit pics intended for our use only on a website without my permission, and then they have been copied and shared by others can i sue the website owners? I asked for them to be deleted, which they did but had to send them confirmation picture that I was the person. I have asked them to make sure no one else posts pictures of me on their site. They say they cant do this and that i just have to request deletion each time. I feel that as they know who I am they should be monitoring uploads and stop pictures of me being posted, not wait for me to police their site and inform them each time someone uses my image. Surely i have right if i have specifically told them not to allow any pictures of me on their site?

  84. Ruth Carter says:

    These cases are usually based on state laws and the details of the situation, so you’d have to consult the police or an attorney in your state to see if this is a crime.

  85. Ruth Carter says:

    A lot of these sites have no obligation to monitor uploads but only remove posts when they’re informed that they were uploaded illegally. I recommend reviewing their terms of service and consult an attorney in your community to have your situation examined more closely.


  1. […] When Can Someone Post Photos Of You Online […]

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  3. […] taking care of the problem is still a bit of a legal gray area. Depending on where you were when that photo was taken, and how the person obtained it, there may […]

  4. […] permission. Still, the ACLU says photographing anything in public is a constitutional right and lawyer Ruth Carter agrees. On the other hand, the Indiana Supreme Court once defined the tort of invasion of privacy as using […]

  5. […] permission. Still, the ACLU says photographing anything in public is a constitutional right and lawyer Ruth Carter agrees. On the other hand, the Indiana Supreme Court once defined the tort of invasion of privacy as using […]

  6. […] permission. Still, the ACLU says photographing anything in public is a constitutional right and lawyer Ruth Carter agrees. On the other hand, the Indiana Supreme Court once defined the tort of invasion of privacy as using […]

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