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My estranged father has produced a limited run of CDs for distribution (potentially for profit - unknown at this time) that include images of my son (a minor) and me on the sleeve, without my consent.

Is there a law that prohibits this, and what can I do about it?

Update 1: There are multiple images in question, all of which were shared with family and friends via Facebook:

  1. An image of my son in his car seat.
  2. A self-portrait of myself and brothers on a public beach.
  3. A self-portrait of myself and brothers in my departed grandmother's care home.
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    Were they photos where you would have had a "reasonable expectation" of privacy? In what context were the photos taken (e.g. on holiday, an unguarded moment at a BBQ, etc.) please? – Matthew Aug 28 '20 at 14:11
  • @Matthew I've updated the post to include descriptions of the images – Anonymous Aug 28 '20 at 14:34
  • This is a case of copyright (who made the photo) vs. personality rights (who is on the photo) and consent to photography... tricky. – Trish Aug 28 '20 at 14:40
  • Were they photo's that your father took? Or did they somehow come into his possession (like downloaded from your Facebook page)? – Ron Beyer Aug 28 '20 at 15:02
  • @RonBeyer downloaded from Facebook. He is estranged from a majority of the family but some ties remain. – Anonymous Aug 28 '20 at 15:04
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Summary: Yes, you would have an actionable claim against him if you were the photographer of all three photos. This is because you would be the copyright owner. Otherwise, it's extremely fact-specific as to whether such actions are unlawful and liable to a claim for damages, etc.

He has no automatic right to use the photographs if he is not the photographer. Copyright rests with the photographer under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. If he wished to exploit them commercially, he would have to prove he acquired the photos lawfully and used them in compliance with any conditions set by the copyright owner.

The "self-portrait" implies that you took the latter two photographs in which case you are the author of the copyrighted works and can bar him from using your works for commercial exploitation.

If you took the photograph of your son, then copyright can be used to bar him using that work too.

Furthermore, you and your son have the right to a "private and family life" under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, implemented through the Human Rights Act 1998. This would extend to the commercial or other exploitation of photographs of your son (a minor). However, there is no automatic "right" to privacy and the UK does not recognise the specific "right of publicity" which would protect the use of your image and/or likeness.

The UK does not have a specific privacy law that would apply to the matter. Most modern privacy claims are built up from a patchwork of other claims.

In the event that you do not hold the copyright to the photograph of your son, you could argue that your father's actions infringe upon you and your son's right to a private and family life under Article 8.

You cannot argue on the basis of "right of publicity" or on any particular ground of "privacy" as the UK does not recognise either particularly strongly at the moment. The best approach at the moment would be Article 8 infringement.

One remedy would be to seek an injunction to prevent publication and exploitation of the photographs. This would be expensive, so I'd recommend engaging a solicitors' firm to write a strongly worded letter before action to your father which should hopefully dissuade him, and then adjusting your privacy settings or blocking him on Facebook to prevent him from doing this in the future.

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  • Worth noting that By posting on Facebook there is a small chance the OP may have licenced the father (specifically she licenced Facebook who licenced the father) depending on their privacy settings and the interpretation of Facebook’s terms. I don’t think it’s likely but it’s arguable which means if the father distributes anyway the ensuing court case is going to be complicated. – Dale M Aug 28 '20 at 22:27

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