Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
permission, privacy, tags


Yes, It's Legal To 'Tag' Someone In A Photo On Facebook Without Permission

from the in-case-you-were-wondering dept

While I've heard the argument that in Europe, it's possible to use various privacy laws to demand that someone remove a photo or "tag" of the requester, in the US that's not the case (barring other circumstances that might require the removal). However, Evan Brown has the details on a custody case, in which a woman (the mother) sought to bar the use of a Facebook photo as evidence. The photo showed her drinking alcohol, which a psychologist claimed could interfere with medicine the woman was taking. The woman claimed that because anyone else on Facebook could upload photos and tag them with her name, she hadn't given permission, and thus the photos should not have been published. The court explained why this is meaningless:
The court held that "[t]here is nothing within the law that requires [one's] permission when someone takes a picture and posts it on a Facebook page. There is nothing that requires [one's] permission when she [is] "tagged" or identified as a person in those pictures."
Of course, it does seem that other issues could (and in some cases were) raised: including the accuracy of the photo, the proof that it was actually alcohol, etc. But simply protesting the use of the photo as evidence because it was uploaded/tagged by someone else appears to be a non-starter.

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  1. identicon
    Big Al, 14 Mar 2011 @ 8:38pm


    Don't know about the laws in the US, but could this kind of thing be ripe for defamation cases?
    After all, there is no 'proof' that she was drinking alcohol and the 'publication' of the photo could certainly be damaging on some levels. Here in Oz we do have certain limits on content of photos that are published, especially if they show someone in a less than flattering light (just leaving a rehab centre for instance).
    Just wondering whether some ambulance chasers could come up with a new business model here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    AW, 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:12pm


    It's funny to use a person in any kind of public monetary means you have to get a release, but to post someone's private life onto a website designed to get the maximum number of eyeballs on the screen to maximize advertising output requires nothing. This is the only area I can find where it actually requires more to protect your private life than it does to protect your business interests.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2011 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Defamation?

    Don't know where in what Australia you live but we don't have any such laws in the actual Australia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), 15 Mar 2011 @ 2:16am

    Well, that;'s the thing about booze...

    Just because you may not remember those events, the camera was sober the whole night.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2011 @ 3:08am

    Re: Re: Defamation?

    He must mean the mgical Land of Oz.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2011 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: Defamation?

    "Just because "unauthorised" photography has not been generally prohibited, it does not mean it's a free-for-all. In NSW Anti-Voyeurism, Defamation and Obscenity laws still apply, as do common law doctrines of Nuisance, Trespass, or statutory prohibitions arising out of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act."
    From, section titled "Limitations on photo rights"
    So, yes, taking and publishing photos (and publishing has now been extended to posting on the internet) at least in NSW (and probably the other states as well) can land you on the receiving end of a defamation suit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    BBT, 15 Mar 2011 @ 8:31am

    It bears noting that, with Facebook's privacy settings, she actually DID implicitly give permission for her friends to tag her in any and all photos. I'm fairly sure you can disallow tagging if you want to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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