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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 101551
Experience:  Licensed attorney in private practice.
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My ex-girlfriend is using pictures I have taken on social

Customer Question

My ex-girlfriend is using pictures I have taken on social media and dating sites (mainly pictures of her). Can I prevent her from doing that and have the current ones removed under copyright law?
Thank you.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am very sorry to hear about this situation. Can you please tell me:

1) What do you mean "using" the photos. Using - how - exactly?

2) How did/does she get the photos in the first place? Did you SHARE them with her while you were together, OR, did she go on your social media and download them from YOUR profile?

3) Are you a professional photographer?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
1) She has used them as profile pictures, highlighted pictures, etc on Facebook and at least 3 dating sites.2) I had them in an album which she had access to when she and I were friends. She took them from there.3) No, I am an amateur photographer.Thank you.
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.

Thank you.

Normally, the photographer retains the image copyrights to a photograph, unless there is a contract where the model gets those rights. Of course I am guessing that there is nothing in writing.

As such, one can possibly make a complaint for intellectual property rights, but it would be a weak case. Allow me to explain why.

You allowed her to openly access the photos, which strongly presumes that you gave her the right to use the photos as she wanted. You also dated her, which would make any such claims without a written contract sound like a jilted lover's revenge suit based on rights given as a gift while/before you were dating (with no conditions/limitations in writing).

A cease and desist as well as a takedown demand letter under DMCA and other IP rights may be sent both to HER and the dating sites she is using them on. The websites are likely to comply without much question simply to avoid a suit. Whether or not she is intimidated by the letter to stop using the photos is up to her. An attorney can come up with a "broad brush" approach to the demand letter(s) to make it sound like there would be a case and it may scare her. So said letter (certified) is recommended.

However, there is hope that she would not call one's bluff, because in truth, the case itself would be very weak.

At least the good news is that most parties do get scared and stop using said images once they receive such a letter.

Please note: If I tell you simply what you wish to hear, this would be unfair to you. I need to be honest with you and sometimes this means providing information that is not optimal. Negative ratings are reserved for experts who are rude or for erroneous information. Please rate me on the quality of my information; do not punish me for my honesty.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for the response. Do you provide such letters?
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.

I can, but it would be for educational purposes only, not from my desk but simply as an example to you, and one should not use the letter verbatim. Let me know if you want this.

Since much of the threat comes from the actual attorney's office, it is recommended to use local counsel to draft and send the letter. You'd be looking at about $200 or so for doing so.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok. I can't send DMCA take down letters just to the sites?
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
My apologies for the wait! You can, yourself. Sure. Here is an example:
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2009/07/06/sample-dmca-take-down-letter/id=4501/
However, you want to make sure that the letter matches the same argument as the attorney would use in their cease and desist letter sent directly to her. As such, it is best to allow said attorney to draft both the DCMA takedown and the cease and desist.
In other words, no need to cut the body for the surgery yourself if you already have a surgeon on hand waiting to operate. Let them do it all.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ely,Sorry for the delay. Could you send me a sample letter that I would use to her?Thanks.
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Sure. However, do you mind if I do so later on today (towards afternoon). I have to leave the site for a few hours. Would this be okay?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ely.Thanks. Whenever you can would be great.
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Hello,
Sorry - I am still in transit! I will post by this late evening. My apologies in advance for the wait. Do not worry, I will not forget. I just do not have the ability to provide the template until I return.
So, give me a few more hours, please. Again, I do apologize.
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Hello,
Below is said sample. Understand that it presumes that the IP rights belong to the sender. This is not confirmed. Whether or not she falls for such a bluff is up to her.
Dear _____,
This correspondence is in regards ***** ***** use of certain photographs for your own personal use. Specifically, the following:
(urls)
These photographs were taken with me as the photographer. Absent a contract stating otherwise, the images and the copyright thereto belong to the photographer. As such, I have the sole rights described under U.S. Copyright Act at 17 U.S.C. 106, specifically:
(1) to reproduce the photographs;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the photographs;
(3) to distribute copies of the photographs to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; and/or
(4) to display the photographs publicly.
Demand is hereby now made that you cease and desist using said photographs, and take down the photographs that are currently being used.
If you do not do this within __ days of your receipt of this certified letter, I may have no choice but to enforce my rights via a legal suit.
Sincerely,
Signature
Name

Note that as stated before, such a letter grossly simplifies the matter. You may wish to review more on this in detail at this excellent FAQ:
http://blog.kenkaminesky.com/photography-copyright-and-the-law/
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!

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