help! i went to this store and they had pictures (from a video) of a woman stealing the problem is that the women looks very much like me. As an educator, i am terribly concerned because i know that many students frequent that store.
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Texas
nothing, this just happened yesterday at around 4:30pm. It is now 2:00am and the only thing ive been able to do is cry and not sleep.
I understand the situation, but I did not see a question and I do not want to make any assumptions. How can I help?
what can i do to have the owner recognize that he has the right to post those images but in doing so he is stomping on my rights? i want them removed.
Help me confirm my understanding of this situation--these pictures are not of you, correct?
no, but everybody agrees that she looks very much like me...for a moment even i thought it was me.
Wow--that must be quite a resemblance.
Does the owner acknowledge that you are not the woman in the pictures?
no, i didnt even talked to him...im planning on talking to him tomorrow morning...im very concerned because kids are not detail oriented and they might just take one glance and think its me!
I would normally assume that the owner posted these photos to identify and shame the actual perpetrator, not to lead people to think that you were responsible for the thefts. Is that your assumption in this case?
no, he doesnt even know me but in doing so he affecting me.
Before we discuss the law and the solutions, for your well-being, we need to briefly address your reaction to all of this. Anyone would understand your feelings, but it is very concerning that the only thing you have been able to do is "cry and not sleep". Mistakes erupt in life sometimes, and this is something that you are going to survive. People lose spouses and children, people get wrongly convicted and go to prison, people lose their jobs over misunderstandings--all of these things are terrible, but it is also just part of the risk of being alive. Here, you are not losing your freedom, you are not losing your family, you are not losing your job--there is a potential for a misunderstanding that is correctable. So you have permission to have your feelings, but I am ordering you to go to sleep and not think about any of this until tomorrow after we finish here, ok?
Reading that back to myself, the tone seems like it might be interpreted as being a little sharp. Please understand, that is not at all my intention.
As an attorney, my job is part legal guru, part therapist, and I want you to leave here not just with the answer, but also with direction for yourself personally. Unfortunately, the written word oftentimes does not convey the softness of the spoken word. I hope that no offense is taken.
i really cant...my image means a lot to me. Students will never respect a "thief". im going to approach the owner first thing tomorrow and i need a way to approach this issue. i cant wait!
Ok, I do recognize that this is affecting you strongly and some problems can't be fixed so easily, so I respect your feelings and I would just encourage you to consider what I have said. So now, back to the question:
what are my rights?
The issue of one's image and reputation is protected under the laws of the state of Texas, as well as most every other state. Legal actions involving doppelgangers is not new. Kim Kardashian is currently suing "Old Navy" for using a woman in their ads who looks almost exactly like her--Ms. Kardashian claims that Old Navy used this woman as a way of indirectly capitalizing on Ms. Kardashian's image. So these things can and do happen...
However, the legal issue is one of intent--does the person displaying the image intend to use or exploit the victim's likeness? It is one thing if a shop owner displays a photo of a thief, but it is another if a shop owner displays a photo of a thief with the intent of leading people to believe that another person is the person in the photo. The reality is that everyone has someone who looks like them, but we only have control over our own image and the intentional use of our likeness. Imagine if a Brad Pitt lookalike sued 21st Century Fox for using an actor that intentionally could be mistaken for the plaintiff---Brad Pitt would never work again. However, this does not mean that there is no redress in all situations...
If there is an actual mistake of identity, and if there is a false accusation of criminal wrongdoing, it is generally possible to sue the perpetrator for "defamation of character." In short, defamation of character is (1) a false statement (2) which exposes a person to public contempt, ridicule or disgrace or causes others to think badly of the person defamed (3) and is made to a third party. So it may not create civil liability for posting a photograph, but it will create it when someone falsely states "Ms. Smith was photographed stealing from WalMart". The law is generally "reactive", not "proactive"--lawsuits can be initiated once damages have actually been sustained--that is the "bad news", but the good news is that the danger of a civil suit is usually a sufficient deterrent to protect against the damage from occurring in the first place.
So going into it, I would ordinarily be inclined to say that the shop owner probably has no idea about any of this, and it could possibly be resolved with a simple conversation. But in the hypothetical scenario where the victim is being slandered, the law is there to "prove her innocence" through a defamation of character lawsuit.
Does that make sense?
Did you have any other questions?
Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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