It is possible for an individual to control the use of their image. This has become an increasingly important issue with growth of and overall ease of access to the Internet. For example, if someone has their picture is taken, they may be able to stop it from being posted on the Internet for commercial use.

Three Grounds for Stopping the Use of Your Likeness

These are three common ways for someone to stop their image from being used by a website:

  1. Invasion of Privacy – if the website posts a false of highly offensive portrayal of someone, it may constitute an invasion of privacy. Also, an invasion of privacy may occur if the picture was taken by some means of intrusion into that person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, such as:
      • Hidden cameras
      • Wiretapping
      • Using infrared or telephoto lenses
  2. Right of Publicity – if an individual’s image is used for commercial purposes, the use of that image may be infringing on their right of publicity. This right only applies in a commercial context and it must be that an individual’s image is used to sell products or in such a way at to imply that they endorse the product. Also, the public must be able to identify that person’s image. This right extends beyond an individual’s likeness and can include:
      • Voice
      • Performance style
      • Name
  3. Defamation – if the image creates a false impression and injures an individual’s reputation, there may be a claim for defamation. A picture that is simply unflattering is not enough to make out a defamation case. Rather, the image must portray that person in a false manner and cause people in the community to think less of the individual.

Do I Need a Lawyer If Someone Has Used a Picture of Me without My Permission?

There are several complicated issues in determining whether you can stop someone from using your image or likeness. An experienced trademark lawyer can help you determine if someone has invaded your privacy, infringed on your right of publicity, or defamed you. Additionally, the laws on these issues tend to vary from state to state. If you need to sue an individual to get them to stop using your image, a local lawyer would have knowledge of the laws in your area and be familiar with the appropriate procedures.