Let’s say you are browsing the internet and realize there is a photo of you used in an advertisement you did not authorize. With millions of people using social media platforms each day, this can occur more than one would realize. This can lead to a very unsettling feeling for the person in the photo. The invasion of privacy can feel similar to someone rifling through your house or personal property and taking something that is yours. You have rights and ways to protect yourself. Read further to learn how to resolve this situation moving forward.
What are the Laws Concerning Using my Photograph without Permission?
Two legal avenues apply when your photograph is used without your permission for commercial or private use in an attempt to make income.
The right to publicity is the right of a person to make money or control the use of their own identity. It is considered an invasion of privacy to use your photo without your permission.
Both of these ensure your right to claim Unlawful Use of Name or Likeness.
What Must Be Proven in an Unlawful Use of Name or Likeness Case?
You have a lawful right to your name or “likeness,” such as a photograph of you, and therefore, you have a say in how those things are used. These are referred to as protected attributes. If you can prove that you did not give the party in question permission to use your protected attributes for an exploitative purpose without your consent, you can generally make a case to protect yourself.
You must prove that the other party used your attributes for personal or commercial gain (exploitative purposes), such as income. You must also be able to confirm that you did not provide consent for them to do so.
When Would I Not Have a Case Against Use of My Photo?
There are a few examples of times when you would generally not have a case to protect yourself when you discover the use of your photograph. These examples can include when you have given verbal or written consent for the party to use your picture. If you supplied consent to use your photo for personal or commercial purposes, you likely wouldn’t be able to pursue a case. If permission was given, but further use beyond the specific consent implied occurred, you may still be able to put together a claim against the other party. No one can use your name or likeness for purposes not outlined in the consent you gave.
What if you discover that your photo was used several years ago and are just now seeing it? There may be a statute of limitations applied. Typically, one to three years is the statute of limitations in these cases. In most cases, if the statute of limitations has passed, you would not be able to pursue a claim against the other party. There are exceptions, however, and a skilled attorney may be able to help you find realistic alternatives.
The third reason that typically prevents you from having a case would be if the photo were used in a news setting such as a broadcast, newspaper article, or blog. For matters of public interest, reporting a picture of you to warn the public of danger or harm that you may cause or have caused would not be protected, either.
What Types of Damages or Compensation Could I Pursue?
You may have experienced a damaged reputation, humiliation, mental distress, or even physical symptoms relating to the discovery of unauthorized use of your photograph. In general, you would calculate the monetary value of these damages by working with an experienced attorney and requesting that the other party compensates you.
You may also have the right to the amount of income that the other party gained by using your name or photograph. In this case, you would need to provide proof of the monetary gain of the party in question specifically related to the use of your attributes. Deduct the expenses incurred, which the defendant must prove, and calculate the difference to determine the amount of compensation you would request.
Why Would I Get an Attorney Involved?
These cases can be incredibly complex and require several years of experience to understand thoroughly. You may have just come across a photo of yourself that was used in the past and now may be outside the statute of limitations. For this, you need the guidance of an experienced attorney. You may have discovered a recent photo of you has been used for advertising, resulting in another party gaining a substantial amount of income, and not know how to defend yourself. You may leave a significant amount of money on the table that can be rightfully yours if you aren’t experienced in handling these cases.
Our law firm has decades of experience working with clients to help them recover compensation that is rightfully theirs and begin to repair their reputation and restore their health. You don’t have to sift through the details alone while agonizing over the misuse of your name or photo. Let our team help you put together a plan that gets you back to living your life and gains justice for the wrongdoings you suffered.
Contact one of our experienced attorneys today at (323) 230-6200 to answer your specific questions. We will work with you to put together a realistic plan that helps you to feel justified against the unauthorized use of your photo.