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Question re newspaper use of photo of DS

(31 Posts)
WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 10:15:20

I wonder whether anyone can give me some advice - I've been googling all morning and cannot find the answer.

A newspaper has used a (blurred) photo of my DS to illustrate a negative story (please excuse me for being vague about the details for obvious reasons). His face is blurred but if you know him it's clearly recognisable and I assume with reverse image searching it would be easy for someone to identify him, particularly given the details in the story. He is not the person the story is about but the inference of the photo could be taken to mean he is.

My question is not about the story but purely about the photo. It was taken in a public place by a commercial photographer: my DS posed for it and is doing nothing wrong in the photo, it's just being used to illustrate the story about what someone else in an organisation he is a member of has done. I assume my DS has no right to ask them to remove it does he? As far as I can tell the copyright lies with the photographer not the subject and I assume the photographer will have given the paper the right to use it. I am just really upset that this photograph could impact his reputation for life!

I suspect that even if he had the right to ask them to remove the picture it would be a bad idea, wouldn't it? As that would just make more of a story.

Grateful for any advice or experience!

Bogburglar99 Sat 12-Dec-15 10:21:17

Have looked into this a bit for other reasons. As I understand it the copyright and ownership of a photo is indeed with the photographer and you have no legal rights over your own image.

That said, it is always described as good practice for a photographer to get consent from the subject before publishing a photo of them.

Is your DS an adult so might be thought to be the person who has done the unpleasant thing mentioned in the story? If so I don't know if he has any case under libel/ slander legislation.

I would think first port of call is for you/DS to contact the paper informally and explain that you aren't happy with his image being used alongside this story, and see what they do.

SavoyCabbage Sat 12-Dec-15 10:26:07

So say he's a tree surgeon there is a story in the paper about a tree surgeon that has done something negative and news worthy and the photo with the story is a blurred one of your son doing his tree surgery?

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 10:29:18

Thanks both of you for such quick responses: yes he is a young adult and yes he is being used as an example of the type of person in the story. And since no names are used you might think he is the accused.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 10:34:29

So to continue Savoy's analogy, the article says some tree surgeons have been hacking at trees and killing birds nesting in them. And then there is a blurred picture of my DS with his chainsaw.

There will be an investigation into the claims by the tree surgeon association so that's for another day. My DS actually rescues and protects the baby birds so his conscience is clear that he's a good tree surgeon but in the meantime he feels very exposed.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Sat 12-Dec-15 10:37:59

Check the photo and story - they may have a disclaimer that the photo is stock or posed by models or similar. It is likely to be really small though. If it is there then there is nothing you can do.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Sat 12-Dec-15 10:38:50

First things first, how old is DS and how old was he when the photo was taken?

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 10:40:50

No there is no disclaimer. They have I think deliberately chosen one of him and his friend as they are high profile in this field.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 10:42:20

DS is 20 and I assume was 19 or 20 when it was taken. So he is not a child so doesn't have protection in that sense - sorry should have said that up front. This is clearly his problem to sort but I want to give him some sensible advice.

abbsismyhero Sat 12-Dec-15 10:47:32

explain to the paper they need to make it clear the picture is stock picture? sometimes they will print a statement to that effect if its as obvious and as googlable as you say

IrenetheQuaint Sat 12-Dec-15 10:51:54

Is there a caption at all?

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 11:05:38

The photo is used twice in the online story. Once under the negative headline on the summary page, with no caption, and once later on with the only caption being a reference to what they are doing in the photo - so no negative implication there. It's just the use of it straight under the headline which worries me.

It's not a stock photo, but that's not a bad idea. I worry if he goes in blazing to the newspaper it would just backfire but perhaps the gentle approach suggested saying he is unhappy with the potential inference that could be made and would they either remove it or label it as a stock photo might not put their backs up.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 11:08:47

I might also follow Bogburglar's suggestion and ask him whether by posing for the photo he agreed the photographer could use it. And maybe contact the photographer saying he really doesn't want that photo used and see if the photographer did give permission.

DropYourSword Sat 12-Dec-15 11:13:38

Definitely wouldn't go in blazing, a polite request might be all it takes.

If you're being TOTALLY honest with yourself though, even if they don't remove it, is it that likely that this will impact his reputation for life?

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 11:18:54

Dropyoursword- I love the alignment between your advice and your username!

I am probably guilty of being an over-worried mother, but in this age, anything which could potentially end up with your name associated with wrongdoing (again being deliberately vague) can impact you. Potential employers etc could find it. So the photo is my first concern but it's just the immediate one. Separately I will worry about his name being dragged into things but that I cannot impact today, whereas the photo I can.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 11:21:30

Oh and for the sake of clarity I should say he is telling me he is completely not involved in the trouble but we will be making sure that's true. And if he is in anyway guilty we will make sure the sky falls down on his head. And this isn't illegal activity we are discussing here, but embarrassing and unpleasant.

IrenetheQuaint Sat 12-Dec-15 11:51:50

Dropping the newspaper website a line asking them to add a caption/disclaimer sounds like the best approach here. They should be used to issues like this.

Dungandbother Sat 12-Dec-15 13:19:48

Ok. I work in publishing

The photographer MUST have a consent form signed by your son. This document will give the photographer the copyright to use it. If there is no consent form he shouldn't be using it. This could be a model release document or if your son paid for the images then that would form the contract.

The newspaper is being very irresponsible to not credit the image source and to state the image is being posed by models. Especially if the piece is at all derogatory.

Ask the paper to take the image down immediately pending a small investigation over copyright. And say it is causing upset. They should do this immediately on the online piece. Print obviously is harder.

Keep talking to them pleasantly and follow up in writing just in case.

Is it a local or national?

Dungandbother Sat 12-Dec-15 13:27:12

Responsible publishers should always ask first!! Which is why I'm thinking it's a local paper. The blurred bit especially indicates to me that they know they cannot link the posed by models bit to the story. Bad form.

I expect they have 'free' use of images from a particular image library and that your sons photo is a part of that library.

If he is indeed a model then usually model release states one time only use or if a library stock image theN the model is paid handsomely and it's their job.... They give the rights to the library that owns the image.

They MUST amend the photo credit if this is the case.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 12-Dec-15 17:36:25

Dunganbother thank you so much for taking the time to explain all that. I haven't been able to get onto him to ask the questions but am pretty certain he has not given any release. And yes it's a local paper and your comment that the blurring indicates they know they shouldn't be doing it is probably bang on. A gentle call or email sounds Like the right approach and you have given us the right sort of words to use. I will report back.

Thanks again all for being so very helpful and giving such wise advice.

prh47bridge Sat 12-Dec-15 18:02:18

The photographer MUST have a consent form signed by your son

That is simply not true in the UK. Whilst many publishers and most stock libraries demand a consent form as a safeguard there is no legal requirement to have one. As has been said earlier copyright lies with the photographer, not with the subject. Unless they have published without the photographer's consent the newspaper has not breached copyright.

I would agree that talking to the newspaper is your best approach but don't go in believing your son has rights he doesn't. In UK law a photographer is free to publish a photo of anyone unless the subject had a reasonable expectation of privacy. So if you are photographed in a public place the photographer can generally make free use of your image regardless of whether or not you consent or were even aware that the photo was being taken.

MinesAPintOfTea Sat 12-Dec-15 18:10:51

Could it be libel? They're implying he was involved in something that they presumably wouldn't want to say explicitly in writing.

YeOldeTrout Sat 12-Dec-15 18:46:15

Is consent really required for photos of Adults? I think OP said her son is an adult. Since when?

One time I ideally opened newspaper to see a very clear picture of my husband. It was an article about summer activities & he was doing something summery. Somewhere along the line he had agreed consent, I imagine... but even if he hadn't, not really a problem.

YeOldeTrout Sat 12-Dec-15 18:47:21

I can't believe the criminals hiding in cars who get snapshotted before notorious trials have given consent. I don't believe that for a moment.

TracyBarlow Sat 12-Dec-15 21:07:06

I work as a local newspaper journalist. Newspapers do not need consent to use a photo or to take a photo in a public place. Nor do they have to credit the photographer (unless by prior agreement) or say that the scene is posed by models etc. The advice above about this is just plain wrong.

However, in your son's case, use of an identifiable (and it must be seen to be identifiable by a reasonable person) photograph of him to illistrate negative behaviour is defamatory and could potentially be libellous.

If someone called me and told me we'd used an identifiable picture of someone, and attributed bad behaviour to that person by way of not stating the photo was posed by models, then we'd immediately take the photo down and apologise. Honestly, journalists are not monsters. Just call them and explain the situation and they'll most likely take it down. Well, that's assuming your son is not involved in the negative behaviour....

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