Re: Rights of Publicity, Privacy, defamation?

From: Steven D. Jamar <sjamar[_at_]>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 15:21:33 -0400

> I was wondering, in the case of (I believe his name is Stephen Mann)
> the MIT student who wears a camera on his head and posts photos from
> it to the web, does this violate anyone's right of privacy or IP
> rights of publicity?
> Similarly, if I were to buy a digital camera and keep an online
> description of the day's events and take photographs of ordinary
> people I met (A sort of Online "Let us now praise famous men"), and
> put them on the web along with my journalistic take on them, ie.:
> "Outside the Blue Note Bar (inset photo) A family of women (Mother,
> daughter, infant) waited for this well dressed man to emerge, bottle
> in hand. "Do you know who this is?" Mother asks daughter. "Its your
> father." Smiles all around. (inset photo).
> Could I be sued for this, assuming the events were true?
> And what about the case of "This is the Armenian Consulate (inset
> photo) which happens to have John Doe's picture in it. Does this
> violate John Doe's privacy or IP rights?
> Andrew Boer
> <aboer[_at_]>

Slow down. The law of privacy is terribly complicated. Anonymous pictures of people on the street are sometimes ok if the pictures are news or if it is a crowd or other times. But sometimes it does invade a privacy interest or a commercial appropriation interest. But many, many pictures of nonfamous people are taken by art photographers, quite legally.

It is my understanding that more and more people doing this sort of work actually take the picture, then try to get permission to use it.

But you really need to hire a lawyer to discuss the ins and outs of this with you - if you are serious about the legal aspects of it. My note here is not legal advice - just a caution that your instincts about privacy concerns may be sensible.

Steve Jamar
<sjamar[_at_]> Received on Thu Sep 12 1996 - 19:28:05 GMT

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