Working on a unique concept website, I am questioning how legal it is and what sort of disclaimer would need to be present in the T&C to remain protected.

Basically, a user pays a fee and is allowed to post a message and a picture that will all be public on the website, and available for all. The picture is of the user and his/her partner. Nothing sexual, nothing offensive, nothing shaming (if so, deleted and refunded.)

My question lies in the user is allowing us to put his picture up, but what about the other person on this picture? We count on the user to make sure the other person is fine with it, but how can we protect ourselves?

  • Privacy laws aside there very well may be celebrity-type laws (right to commercialization of personal image etc) that prevent this kind of stuff, depending on the region. The appearance of the partner who perhaps didn't consent to the upload on your business website could be argued as an implied endorsement of the service, or the service could be said to be profiting from a personality it didn't not have permission to. – user900 Jul 26 '16 at 2:23
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  • There are already loads of websites which allow you to upload your pictures to show them publicly (such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram...). They would all face the same problem you ask about. Consider checking how they do it. – sleske Oct 24 '16 at 7:44

I am not a lawyer but my understanding of the law is that in the USA there is no need to get permission from anyone to post a photo unless:

  1. You did not take the photo. Then you need permission from the person who took the photo. It doesn't matter if the photo was taken with your camera; only the actual photographer matters. Your terms of use should specify that the author has permission to post the picture from the copyright owner. OR

  2. Your use of the picture is appropriating name and likeness. In that case you need the permission of the people in the photograph. To learn more, Google right to publicity. Depending on the website this may or may not affect you.


I'm not an expert by any means, but from what I've seen on many websites where users are allowed to upload images freely, you'll be fine if you have an easily accessed portion of the website where people can request a picture be taken down. May or may not be related to DMCA, so that's a good place to start looking.

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    You may find that those websites have terms of service that require the uploader to warrant that they are permitted to upload said photos. – jimsug Feb 26 '16 at 23:15
  • That's a very good point. – user4548 Feb 29 '16 at 8:25
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    In general, you require some form of "model release" from anyone whos images you are using publicly - it may or may not be adequate for you to foist this responsibility onto the users of the site in your T&C's - but you need to see a lawyer in the jurisdiction you are planning on running this from. – davidgo May 27 '16 at 5:16

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