We often ask ourselves “can a newspaper use my photo without permission” because we live in an age where there’s so much news that it’s practically impossible to keep up with everything that’s going on. Thanks to the internet, the amount of news content that’s posted daily is absolutely huge and it’s constantly getting bigger. With news come photos and there are countless photos accompanying news pieces being published online daily. But a lot of the time, members of the public end up getting photographed and having that photo of the put up online either against their will or without their knowing. Most of the time, ordinary people are just in the background, but sometimes they’re the focus of the photo even though they didn’t ask to be. Is this right?
Frankly, no it’s not, especially if the person who doesn’t want their photo online is the subject of the photo. When they’re in the background and when you can’t see them properly, it’s alright, but when they’re the focus, it’s a different matter. It’s a sad sign of the times that if something remotely newsworthy happens, there’s a very good chance there will be people there taking photos and even making videos. Even if there’s a car crash, there’s a likelihood that there’ll be photos and videos of the aftermath put online. Even funerals aren’t safe from photos; people attending funerals can and do have photos put online – the more distressed they look, the better! It seems these days that some journalists think they have a right to publish all their photos, no matter who’s in them. If someone doesn’t want their photo put online, tough!
Even terrorist attacks aren’t safe, for crying out loud. It’s frankly disgusting that people have their photos taken and videos made of them right after they’ve survived a terrorist attack. They’re frightened, panicked, confused and upset – the last thing they want is to have some photos taken and put online. Google any terrorist attack, especially ones that have happened recently, and you’ll find loads of photos, even some of people being taken away in ambulances. What happened to people’s privacy? Why is there a lack of respect for people, especially in circumstances where the last thing people want is to be photographed and caught on video?
It’s wrong for journalists and any kind of photographer to take photos of someone and put them online without that person’s permission. Not everyone wants their photo put online, especially if it’s going to end up on a site where it’s bound to be seen by lots of people. It’s understandable that journalists want to get lots of photos of an event so that readers can get a fuller representation of the event. But at the same time, they can’t just have a free licence to take photos of random members of the public and publish them online. There’s got to be some sort of compromise somewhere. If you happen to get caught up in some newsworthy event, you should be able to walk away without having your photo plastered online against your will.