Intellectual Property Law

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1. May I post a persons picture on my blog without permission? 2.

1. May I post a...
1. May I post a person's picture on my blog without permission?
2. May I mention that I was intimate with an individual?
3. If that person is no longer living, does that change things?
4. What if an heir of a deceased person takes offense?
5. Is an exception made for celebrities?
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Answered in 45 minutes by:
8/3/2013
Attorney Wayne
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,506
Experience: Practicing Law Since 2000
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Hello. Thanks for contacting us.

Since you so nicely enumerated a list, let me respond in kind:

1. May I post a person's picture on my blog without permission?

It depends on the circumstances and who took the picture. If you took the picture, you have a copyright in the picture, and then the only issue how the picture got taken. If someone else took the picture and there's no permission to use it, then its copyright infringement.

Another consideration is how the picture got taken. If there is no trespass, invasion of someone's privacy by intruding on their seclusion etc, then there is no real legal impediment to the publication of the photo. Additionally, some that has clear public interest (for instance, a picture of famous celeb or politician) gets more protection than a simple picture of someone who is not in the public eye.

Additionally, one must be conscious of defamation. If an article or blog post together with the picture state as a fact something that's not true, then there could be a lawsuit for defamation. The less of a public personality someone is, the stricter the rules against defamation are. For a famous person, say a movie star or an elected official, defamation requires not just stating a fact that is not true, but actually showing actual malice and/or reckless disregard for the truth.

2. May I mention that I was intimate with an individual?

If it is true, then yes. However, in some states, there is a limit to how much about the relationship can be revealed without intruding on someone's privacy and creating a possible lawsui based on how the infomration was gathered.. Again, the more public the person is, the less privacy they get.

3. If that person is no longer living, does that change things?

Absolutely. Living people have more privacy rights, because privacy is personal. However, if the reputation has an economic worth, then heirs could try to sue over various things -- including defamation, which would then require a showing that the things said were true. Often, lawsuits that can't win are brought anyway -- as long as they are not frivolous, courts will let them proceed. If that's the case, defense can be expensive.

4. What if an heir of a deceased person takes offense? See 3 above.

5. Is an exception made for celebrities?

As noted, public personalities -- aka celebrities -- have a smaller zone of privacy and very high threshold to cross to win a defamation or invasion of privacy suit. It is possible -- particularly if there was trespass or some other intrusion involved. Also, it depends in which state. California laws tends to protect celebrities more than some other states. But given the trans-border reality of internet publication (as opposed to distribution of regional or local newspaper), it is a good idea to tailor an internet publication accordingly.

I wish you every success with your project.
Attorney Wayne
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,506
Experience: Practicing Law Since 2000
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


Re. 2d para. of No. 1, are you saying that if I take a photo of, say, Lauren Bacall off of Google and post it in my blog, I could be sued for copyright infringement?

Yes. If someone else took the picture, and there is no written permission to use it, it is infringement. The owner of a copright can sue for infringement. The way around this is to provide a link to picture on another site but not use the on one's own blog page.

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