Tuesday, January 03, 2006


As most of you know, I have been on three cruises within the past two months. I missed a lot of things in the blogger world and the poker world.

While I was gone on one of my cruises, something big happened.

I stumbled across it after I came home, and was pretty appalled and shocked.

I'm not going to go into specifics over this tragedy, because it is old news, for one thing, plus it wouldn't do anyone any good. It's one of those horrible situations where no matter how correct one is, he just can't win.

The debacle is about online photos, believe it or not. I have absolutely nothing to do with this fight, oddly enough. I was just an after-the-fact reader. In addition, if anything, I care for the guy who is legally correct LESS than the other party. But because he is right, I'm going to stick up for him anyway.

I was talking to my Dad online, when suddenly I saw that someone had been flamed and threatened for posting pics online. He had posted several, random pics of a social occasion he attended. Not only did the parties who had their pics posted flame him, but threatened him legally.

What made this extremely hypocritical, to me, was that the party who felt abused, had also posted pics of the same event, a week earlier! The offended parties said that the reason it was "okay" to post the first pics, but not the second, was because the first pics were "more flattering" than the second (???)

So, after reading the entire flame war, and just sitting in front of my monitor with my mouth gaping open, I said to my Dad,

"I think I remember reading somewhere that if you pose for a picture, you give you consent to be photographed, you are at a social occasion and these are not candid pics, you pretty much waive all of your rights to those pics, and what happens to them, as long as the photographer isn't planning on using them for negative purposes, right?"

My Dad said that he thought it was something like that, but maybe not quite that liberal.

I had remembered this because of reading about FBI agents not being photographed, and wondering why. Yes, this was a long time ago, maybe 15 years or more.

Anyway, I did what any normal internet junkie would do, and looked it up.

I found the website of a copyright attorney who laid out the law on photography pretty clearly, and in a way that we ignorant laymen could understand.

Sure enough, if you are at a party, or some kind of social setting, and someone whips out a camera, if you smile and pose, or don't object in some way, you are giving the photographer full permission to take your pic, and do whatever the heck he wants with it.

She did point out a few exceptions. Like if the guy tried to make money off of these photos (not in a newsworthy way; the media is a whole other can of worms, ugh), or if he was libeling/slandering you. Or if the pic clearly identified where you live, so invited someone to come harass you. Stuff like that.

But if someone takes a pic of someone else in a social setting, and then posts it in the daily paper, or on the internet, or whatever (with no bad intentions), you can pretty much kiss your butt goodbye. You have no legal recourse.

Sure, you can ask him to take the pics down. You can request to be blacked out or something, but he doesn't have to do SQUAT, if he doesn't want to.

She said that with the Internet, anything goes, and you really don't have any legal right to demand your pics be removed from the site (not if he doesn't break any of the exceptions above, that is).

So anyway, after reading through that lawyer's site, and a few other legal sites on photography, I got the scoop.

Fortunately, the whole thing had blown over by the time I even read it, so entering the fray and stirring up another flame war wasn't going to help anything.

I would like readers to know, however, if you smile and pose for the camera, your butt is grass. Just grin and bear it. And although this has absolutely nothing to do with me, and I'm not much of a photographer as it is, if I take a pic of you and post it on here, don't even bother with threats. It ain't coming down. There is no such thing as anonymity on the Internet if you smile and pose for the camera.

While I don't even particularly like the guy who posted the pics, I have to say that he was 100% correct, and the other parties were way, WAY out of line. I think, at the very least, they owe him an apology. But I won't hold my breath for that one!

Felicia :)