Your employees did some charitable work and you want to share how proud you are of them on Facebook. Your colleagues had a lunch date and you want to post the photo on Twitter. You and your clients went to a concert together and it would be a great marketing picture for other clients to see you like to have fun.
Before you post anymore photos – Please know I’m sharing this for consideration only. I’m not an attorney. I don’t even play one on TV. I’m giving you food-for-thought for you to discuss at your company or consult with your own attorney.
Who owns the photo?
Did you take the photo with your personal camera? Did someone else take the photo and forward it to you? Did you use a company-owned camera to shoot that picture? Believe it or not – it matters.
Talk with your attorney about ownership of photos and make sure you are clearly within your right to use a photo, too. These are not federally regulated laws, either. Each state governs this privacy issue so beware and be aware!
Even photos taken in public places can be scrutinized
If you’re in a public place there is an expectation that anyone can TAKE the photo and use it – as long as it’s not being used to promote an actual product or service. Every person in the United States has a right to protect themselves from being used to benefit a company and it includes public websites, social media, etc.
“I got a photo release – I’m covered.”
Um – be sure you know what that photo release actually covers. Getting a real photo release (a signed one, not something verbal like, ‘You good?’ – nope!) is definitely a good idea (a good, legal idea) because we never know what is going on in someone’s personal life that keeps them from wanting their picture and personal information shared online. (Read into that crazy divorces, child custody issues, not liking how we look in the photo, etc.)
Also – your attorney will know the right stuff the release needs to contain such as voluntary signing of the form, hold harmless clauses, etc.
BE A PERSON OF ACTION: Have your attorney draft a photo release immediately for your employees and then talk to them one-on-one (not one-on-many which can be intimidating) and ask them if they want to participate in company photos…or not. Make this a safe conversation, too. Whatever their answer, respect it. The same goes for your clients. Data privacy includes photos and we must protect both ourselves as business owners and the consumers we work with daily.