A few months ago I had a temporary guest in my residence. During this time he, without my permission, went through my personal hard disk and copied all of my pictures onto his personal computer. (These are pictures of me, such as ones you take on holidays, and a few more private ones.)

None of these pictures were ever posted online, so the only way he got access to the pictures is because he copied them from my computer.

I only found about what he did recently because I received a message with an attachment from him saying, "I've got these photos of you...."

I told him to delete them, and he said he did.

A few days ago I went to his place and went on his laptop with his permission (as by this point I wasn't trusting him) and There I found lots of other pictures, all from my hard disk that I have never ever shared with anyone, including the pictures that he said he deleted.

What can I do to make sure that all these photos get deleted?

What are the laws about these types of situations?

  • Phone 101 (I believe there's a charge of 25p from a land line) and explain it to the police. They'll know straight away if a crime has been committed. You don't have to press charges but a visit from the police, rummaging through his computer, should be enough to put the fear into him.
    – Ken Sharp
    Jan 21, 2016 at 11:40
  • I wouldn't be too confident that the police will know whether this is a crime; I've heard enough stories of police fobbing victims off with "its not a crime" when it clearly is. Police officers are not lawyers and (at least in the UK) are incentivised to avoid recording something as a crime whenever possible. Dec 7, 2018 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


You have the copyright on all your pictures. He had no permission to copy any of them, so he has committed copyright infringement on a massive scale. You can just get a solicitor who will happily take him to court for you. You shouldn't be overdoing it, $750 per infringed work (per picture) as statutory damages should be fine.

If you want it cheaper, the solicitor will write a letter for you that asks him to destroy all the pictures, sign that he has destroyed all the pictures, pay the solicitor's fees, or otherwise be taken to court for copyright infringement (see above).

Now I am not a lawyer, so you go to a lawyer which will correct whatever I got wrong here.

Just forgot: In addition to having the copyright, if he publishes pictures of people (like you and your family), he needs permission of these people. So if anything gets published, that goes on top of the copyright infringement.

  • Sounds like a solid answer. I will consult a solicitor on this. Try to resolve it peacefully, and if that does not work. Its time to hit the courts. I did notice that he saved the pictures on his OneDrive account, Do you think that count towards publishing? Or additional legal repercussions? Cause usually whatever is stored on the cloud never truly gets deleted!
    – smrk
    Oct 14, 2015 at 19:46
  • Copying to OneDrive would be another copy. Didn't notice the "United Kingdom". In the USA you can ask either for substantial "statutory damages" per work copied, independent of the number of copies or actual damage, or for actual damages - statutory is usually higher. "Publishing" would require that others can see the images. There's also the matter of accessing your computer without authorisation - that would make it worse than copying a box of photos on paper that he found in your loft.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 14, 2015 at 21:17
  • 2
    Your last paragraph is not entirely correct. See law.stackexchange.com/questions/3540/… and law.stackexchange.com/questions/247/…
    – Dale M
    Oct 14, 2015 at 21:40

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