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permission to publish your photo

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xwordmad | 19:40 Mon 08th Jan 2007 | Law
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Is anyone able to publish you photo on their web site, do they need your permission? Thanks.

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As a general rule (and putting aside everything from the Official Secrets Act to the Sexual Offences Act), I can take a photograph of whoever I like, whenever I like, as long as I'm in a public place (or anywhere else where there are no restrictions on photography). For example, if you leave your curtains open, I'm perfectly entitled to take a photograph of you, through your window, as long as I'm on a public footpath.

Once I've taken that photograph, I'm generally free to do exactly as I like with it, including posting it on a website. There are certain restrictions which, for example, mean that I can't take a photograph of a celebrity and use it, without permission, in an advertising campaign. I must also ensure that I don't use that photograph in a defamatory manner (e.g. if I manipulated the photograph to show that you were engaging in some strange sort of sexual activity, the laws of defamation would provide you with a means of redress through the civil courts).

In general, though, anyone can publish your photograph on their website without your permission.

Chris
Take a photo of me and I will break your legs Chris!
It's OK Fred, I doubt that you're my type of fella! ;-)

Just to add a serious point to my original post, I've been watching BBC News 24 reporting the problems experienced by Kate Middleton with the paparazzi following her around and with newspapers subsequently publishing her picture. The BBC correctly referred to recent European legislation which provides some rights to privacy. However, they also mentioned that her team of highly paid lawyers have spent the last week examining how this law might be used to benefit her.

So, while there might be a law which could be invoked to prevent publication of your photograph on a website, it's quite clear that access to this law is outside of the reach of 'joe public'.

Chris

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