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Is it legal to post a photo of someone without permission?

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Determining the legality of posting photos of people without their consent should be analyzed on a case by case basis. There are situations where posting of the photo would attract no legal ramifications while in other instances the action of posting would attract lawsuits.

Photos of a person taken in public can be legally posted without their consent as there are no laws protecting one from such actions.

Photos of people taken on private property with the photographer doing so from a nearby public designated footpath or property they have a right to be on can be posted with no legal ramifications.

However, there are situations that would introduce the possibility of lawsuits if the individual whose photo has been posted selects to take action. This may also be stretched to the two points mentioned above depending on the circumstances.

It is possible to take legal action for photos that clearly misrepresent you, create a false impression or injure your reputation. Such photos are considered defamatory to your image in the public domain.

Legal action can also be sought if the photo posted is intended for commercialization and your image is clearly recognizable. It is important for those intending to commercialize such photos by posting them, to first seek consent from those captured in the said photo.

It is also possible to take legal actions for photos that show one undertaking private action such as undressing, using the toilet or performing sexual acts. Couples who have a sex tape inherently expect that the photo or footage is only available to them. Therefore, it would be illegal to post such photos or footage without the consent of one’s partner because they expect privacy.

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