Sunday, February 17, 2019

Perils of Posting Photos... Even of Yourself

The copyright of a photograph belongs to the photographer.
Photographed persons have the right of publicity (which means that their images are not free for advertisers to use to promote services or products.)

For authors, this might mean that a selfie is the best possible photo for the back matter.

Legal bloggers Linda A. Goldstein and Amy Ralph Mudge, posting  for Baker & Hostetler LLP discuss yet another celebrity being sued for adorning her social media pages with photographs of herself without the permission of the person who took the lovely shots.

There might have been a time, early in self-publishing, when author-convention-goers might have been tempted to snap a photo of a cover model, and later to use that photo on a book cover. Models' rights and photographers' rights are much better protected these days.

Might this mean that copyright infringers face double trouble if they use an author's portrait to promote pirated ebooks?

On the topic of models' rights, Rick Kurnit blogging for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC last week discussed the case of Cozzens v. Davejoe Re and models' Lanham Act claims in addition to their allegedly violated rights of publicity because a company made permissionless use of six ladies' likenesses on a Facebook page.

The Lanham Act concerns false advertising.  If a photograph suggests to the audience that the model, actress (or author) endorses or participates with the service or product being offered, that is false advertising and triple damages and attorneys fees may be awarded to the wronged beautiful person.

And then, there is the Australian defamation case that really could break the internet if it succeeds. Michael Bradley, writing for the Marque Lawyers takes a position on how likely it is that "news" sits and social media platforms could be held liable for defamatory, user-generated comments.

Why is it that tech companies can set up highly profitable fora, but have no duty to monitor them?  On the other hand, it is good to remember that individual users who generate comments can be sued for defamation... at least in Australia.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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