A recent lawsuit involving Match.com and one of their affiliates points out that you have the ultimate responsibility for any pictures posted online. As you might know, pictures of people require a model’s consent form before they’re published online, or the consequences can end up like they did in this case.
This particular case involves a married woman who gave verbal permission to a photographer to use her image on a hair salon website. He went a step further and uploaded her picture to ‘stock.xchange,’ where the picture was distributed to a wider audience. A Match.com affiliate who was doing ‘social marketing’ came along and used the picture in a manner which displeased the woman because of its depiction of her. The file was downloaded a total of 6,900 times before it was removed from the site.
As the lawsuit states, she was neither asked for permission to use her picture on a dating website by Match.com or the affiliate and she was not compensated for its use.
One of the accesses involved using her image in relation to an article on a health website that depicted her as ‘coming out of the closet.’ The woman, who is married and heterosexual was unhappy with the characterization and this lawsuit is the result.
The whole case illustrates what can go wrong using images online without gaining authorization first. The affiliate thought the ‘royalty free’ stock image site had the permission. That site thought the photographer had the permission. In fact, no one had been granted proper authorization.
Regardless of the claims made by the affiliate, they still likely used the image wrong, in violation of the terms of the image site, which says that the image can not be used to endorse a product. Most ‘royalty free’ image websites carry similar limitations so anyone using the pictures needs to read carefully.
Let’s recap the issues outlined:
- No authorization to use the image from the model.
- Used for commercial gains.
- Depicted an endorsement.
- Misrepresented the woman’s sexuality.
- Image wrongly published to a ‘royalty free image’ website and distributed globally.
That’s quite a list of issues involving this image. Always make sure you have full written permission from anyone who’s picture you plan on using in an online campaign.
Issues like this are one of the strongest reasons that someone should use a website builder with licensed images for their web presences.