Photos. Social Media. Facebook.

Do adults have rights over photos taken of them when they were children? Can children sue their parents to remove their photos from platforms such as Facebook or Instagram? These are some of the questions that will need to be answered in the not too distant future.

In Austria, an 18-year-old woman is suing her parents for posting roughly 500 images of her to their Facebook page without her consent. The woman told an Austrian newspaper, “They knew no shame and no limit — and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot — every stage was photographed and then made public.”
The woman not only wants her parents to remove the photos from their Facebook page, she is also seeking monetary damages. Facebook does require its users to be at least 13 years of age, but it does not have a specific policy prohibiting the sharing of children’s photos. Will Facebook and other social media sites have to adjust their policies in this regards? They may very well have to.

Taking and Sharing Photos.

The father of the woman at the heart of the lawsuit simply states that he has rights to the photos because he took them. On its face, that statement may be a bit simplistic. The woman’s attorney stated that they have a very good chance of winning the case, which is scheduled to be heard by an Austrian court this November.
Many parents and grandparents post and share photos of their kids and grandchildren on social media. Many believe this is harmless, while other parents are reluctant to make photos of their kid’s public due to the threat of improper use by potential predators and other unsavory people.
The Austrian decision on this case will surely have world-wide ramifications. The social media phenomenon is still in its early stages, relatively speaking, and there will be many issues, legal and otherwise, that will ultimately have to be addressed. Meanwhile, if there’s an embarrassing baby photo of you out there somewhere on the Internet, you may finally have some recourse.
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

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