Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Beware signing away image rights

Most of our personal images seem innocuous.  Unless we’re trying to make money with our photographs, there seems little harm in allowing others the right to use them.  Is anyone really, after all, likely to be interested in seeing us sunburned in front of a monument?  We make that assumption all the time when we use social media.  In many cases, the terms and conditions of social media services insist on the rights to the images we upload, even after we’ve deleted them. 

This couple thought that.  A photographer offered them a free photoshoot in exchange for their agreement that he could sell the images to stock photo sites.  They gladly agreed, thinking that in the unlikely event it was ever used, so what?  Unfortunately, the image turned up here:

an image used for the campaign against equal marriage in the recent Irish referendum.

The couple are keen to stress that the campaign obtained the image legally and that they weren’t tricked in any way by either them or the photographer.  It’s just that they don’t agree with the message and are understandably uncomfortable that they unwittingly contributed in some way to the No campaign.

It’s a lesson to all of us, especially those who feel that privacy isn’t important if you’ve nothing to hide.  In this case, permission for the image to be used was pretty explicit.  In other cases – such as those involving social media sites insisting on owning image rights – not nearly so much.

For the record:

In a statement released via Human Rights campaign group Amnesty International in Ireland the pair laid out their own views on the gay marriage debate, although as non-Irish citizens they were not involved in the vote.

"This family believes that everyone has a right to marry the person they love regardless of their gender," they said.

"And this family would vote Yes [in favour of legalising same sex marriage]."

Also for the record: me too.

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