I frequently see photos of public officials, celebrities or people who are in the news on media websites with a credit that looks something like this:


The irony is that the image is taken from John Brown's Facebook page.

Isn't that illegal, or am I missing something?

I understand that it's legal to display pictures of people who are in the public eye - as long as YOU take the picture, you get permission from the person (including John Brown) who did take the picture, or the picture is in the public domain.

So I guess my question can best be worded like this:

Is it legal for the media to take photos of a person in the public eye from that person's social media site and display it without permission?


But you did give permission.

Facebook’s (new) ToS:

Specifically, when you share, post or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (e.g. photos or videos) on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free and worldwide licence to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Facebook Products that you use.

  • Wow, that's interesting. Just to make sure I understand this, can I visit John X's Facebook page, copy a photo of John Brown and a picture of one of his paintings that he uploaded and display it on my website, as long as I credit Facebook/John Brown? – David Blomstrom May 16 '18 at 4:29
  • And as long as John Brown has a legal right to upload the picture to facebook - if what he did was illegal, what you did is illegal too. – Dale M May 16 '18 at 4:38
  • Ah, interesting Catch-22...To be perfectly safe, I should verify that John Brown legally uploaded the picture. I could assume it must be legal if the media are using it - but that might not necessarily be true. Even if illegal, the media have enormous legal resources. Great answer. – David Blomstrom May 16 '18 at 4:48
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    The TOS allows Facebook to use the image; I don't see how that grants third parties the right to use it, also. – bdb484 May 16 '18 at 12:34
  • @bdb484 “sub-licensable” – Dale M May 16 '18 at 20:16

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