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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Posts
    7

    Question Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    My question involves defamation in the state of: California

    Hello,

    My question is in regards to images of myself (and other colleagues) posted on - a separate personal (public) Facebook page created by the real estate brokerage - a company that I used to work for. The images were taken at a private event, on a private beach, and only until recently I learned that they were posted on this Facebook page. (Note: the real estate brokerage has a separate official public business page on Facebook)

    When these images were taken I was going through a difficult time with the company due to their poor management - which made me walkaway shortly after. At the time I had also gained a lot of weight. Having these images posted makes me feel very uncomfortable, for personal reasons and also for the nature of my job when my name is Googled (I work as a journalist). In the same way that I respect the privacy of my subjects when being interviewed, I also expect mine to be respected. I am also aware that as a photojournalist recognizable people in images must sign a release form. Shouldn't it be the same for other businesses, especially when they are posted on auxiliary pages?

    I wrote three emails to the Administrator and Manager asking kindly to remove the images. Another option would be for the management to make the images private or crop me out. At first the Administrator replied that she would do it. Shortly my emails were ignored.

    They continue to create so much hardship! What is the most subtle way to have these images removed? I really do not want to be involved in another long debate with a brokerage which has the lowest professional values and standards that I have ever come across in my career so far. I have already been through this before with other issues and then left the company due to their poor treatment. Their ambition has no limits.

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    47.606 N 122.332 W in body, still at 90 S in my mind.
    Posts
    1,624

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    You likely have little real recourse. The images may have been taken at a private event but that doesn't mean there is an expectation of privacy. The images weren't taken by you so you don't own them and you have little actual control over how the images are used unless they are used commercially, such as stock photos being licensed for sale.

    So, you can rant and rave about it but little will happen with it. You could hire an attorney to write a cease and desist letter but that has no legal force behind it. Eventually you'll get to court spend a lot of money and still not likely prevail. Not because it's a business but because you don't own your image in settings where there is no expectation of privacy.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,436

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    Outside of making you feel uncomfortable, in what way are having these pictures there creating a hardship?

    (That is a question, not a rebuttal of your position. It is something you have not made clear.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,174

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    can't you just untag yourself from the photos -- if they are linked to your name, you should be able to do so.....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    Thank you for your reply! The reason why I left the company has created a hardship, not the images themselves. This company had an unauthorized group of agents which I joined, with which I signed a minimum two year contract and then noticed shortly the group's leader lack of standards, moral values and overall unprofessional behavior. With that being said, if I were to take this to the headquarters human resource department, it wouldn't make a pretty letter...It is in their best interest to respect my privacy and delete these images.

    Hello, thank you for your reply! I wish it was that easy. I already untagged myself and my name from the images. However we are part of a large network of realtors. That means many people in our network are still able to view those images, recognize me and so on. With face recognition technology advancing soon, the internet will most likely be able to make use of any public images which could automatically show up on Google search results and other browsers, software, etc.

    Therefore sometimes it's not enough to remove your written name in order to protect your privacy.

    Photographing a private person at a private event should carry more weight than photographing a public figure at a public or private event.
    I understand that the images were not taken by me, however the "photographer" herself/himself does not own any kind of copyright either, since like you mentioned he/she is not able to make use of them besides randomly posting online? In which case, the private person can request to have it taken down.

    However, it can be argued that these images are used commercially. This a residential brokerage that uses among other marketing tactics images (of company events in this case) on a Facebook page to promote their activities. In return more agents join, sell home and grow their yearly income.

    Even more, the page on which the images are posted, is a private company page on Facebook and not their official page. As far as I am concerned, the account may be authorized or unauthorized. Wouldn't my request make sense in both scenarios? Or at least for them to consider to have my figure cropped from the images, which can be easily done since I am positioned on the outer corners.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. What would be another subtle way to proceed forward? Would contacting the headquarter PR or HR departments help?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    Quote Quoting RedPelerin
    View Post
    Photographing a private person at a private event should carry more weight than photographing a public figure at a public or private event.
    I understand that the images were not taken by me, however the "photographer" herself/himself does not own any kind of copyright either, since like you mentioned he/she is not able to make use of them besides randomly posting online? In which case, the private person can request to have it taken down. ?
    Why do you believe that the photographer doesn't hold the copyrights?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    The company doesn't hold the copyright because they are not able to post them commercially without my permission. Since they are a commercial company and not a private person their use is limited to sharing as a commercial company only. It can be argued that they use the images to market their events, company and in return more agents will join. It is widely known that real estate brokerages do that all the time.

    What is more strange is the fact that the images are posted publicly by a private Facebook page (just like you and I have our own personal page) instead of their official Facebook page. My question is, why does the company give permission to a private Facebook page to share and make use of our images? Even if it's their page, shouldn't it be on their official public page?

    Either way, maybe the images are not even in question as much as their auxiliary page is...

    For anyone who says this doesn't make a debate and that I do not have the right to protect my privacy from these people and/or company, it's just very hard to believe!

    I read that a cease and desist letter refers to copyrighted work. However this involves myself and other agents as private figures publicly posted without our permission. The copyright of the image itself does not matter. What matters is whether or not the photographer has permission to post an image taken on a private location, at a private event and then posted publicly on a company page. Perhaps if the letter was formulated differently then it would make sense.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    8,022

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    Quote Quoting RedPelerin
    View Post
    I understand that the images were not taken by me, however the "photographer" herself/himself does not own any kind of copyright either, since like you mentioned he/she is not able to make use of them besides randomly posting online?
    Under federal copyright law the photographer owns the copyright in the photos he takes the moment the image is recorded unless the photographer took the photos as a work for hire. Unless the photographer was an employee of the company it is unlikely that this was a work for hire. If the photographer owned the copyright when he took them, he may have transferred those rights to the employer or at least given the employer a license (permission) to use them. In any event, you as one of the subjects of the photo aren't affected by the copyright issues here.

    The issue that relates to you is whether the company is infringing on your right of publicity. California, being home to Hollywood and one of the world centers for movie, TV, and music production has a pretty strong set of right of publicity related laws. If you can make the argument that the company is using it commercially, which may include any use by the company to promote its business, you may be able to force the company to take the photos down or sue for the infringement of your right of publicity. You'd want to see a lawyer familiar with that particular tort for assistance with that. The lawyer can start with a letter to the company that outlines how the company is infringing on your right of publicity (the company likely has no idea such a right even exists) and that may be enough to get the company to down the photos. If that doesn't work the lawyer can help you in pursuing an injunction to force the employer to take the photos down.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    Hi Taxing Matters,

    You make a few good points. Actually at the time the person that took the images was most likely the Administrator and she/he works for the company. During the event they were required to help and most likely were getting paid. They were very likely getting paid at the time when the images were posted to Facebook as well!

    These are not professional images though. I do understand that the "photographer" holds some kind of copyright but I think in this case, what stands out more or what should, is the privacy of the private figures photographed. Like you mentioned, whether or not it is infringing on my right to publicity. It would be a whole different discussion if I was a public figure, which I am not.

    As a journalist and photojournalist I am required to obtain a release for any recognizable persons in each image before publishing publicly. Why shouldn't a real estate company be required to obtain a release as well?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    8,022

    Default Re: Removal of Personal Images on Auxiliary Company Public Facebook Page

    Quote Quoting RedPelerin
    View Post
    Hi Taxing Matters,

    You make a few good points. Actually at the time the person that took the images was most likely the Administrator and she/he works for the company. During the event they were required to help and most likely were getting paid. They were very likely getting paid at the time when the images were posted to Facebook as well!
    If the photographer was an employee of the company then the photos were likely works for hire, in which case the company would hold the copyright, not the photographer. But as I noted before the copyright doesn't impact your situation as a subject of the photo.

    Quote Quoting RedPelerin
    View Post
    These are not professional images though. I do understand that the "photographer" holds some kind of copyright but I think in this case, what stands out more or what should, is the privacy of the private figures photographed. Like you mentioned, whether or not it is infringing on my right to publicity. It would be a whole different discussion if I was a public figure, which I am not.
    Actually, no, it wouldn't be a whole different discussion if you were a public figure. In fact, that would likely boost your claim for damages from infringement of your right to publicity since using your image for commercial purposes would be much more valuable.

    Quote Quoting RedPelerin
    View Post
    As a journalist and photojournalist I am required to obtain a release for any recognizable persons in each image before publishing publicly. Why shouldn't a real estate company be required to obtain a release as well?
    You need that release because of the possibility that otherwise you might be sued for infringement of their right of publicity. Whether that right is infringed depends on the use made of the photo. It's the same thing here.

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