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Has someone has taken a photo of you and has posted it online without your permission? What you can do about it depends on who is taking the photo, the location of where the photo is being taken, as well as the purpose for which the photo being used. The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) regulates in Australia how information of a personal nature is handled. However, it does not cover individuals acting in a personal capacity. For example, it does not cover a random individual taking a photo for their personal use nor does it cover you when a neighbour is taking a photo of you. This article on photographer rights covers what is considered a “public place”, and the importance of obtaining a Release Form as well as Insurance.

What is a Public Place?

There are no laws to stop someone taking a photo of you in a public place and then posting it online. However, some councils may impose permits on people taking photographs in well-known locations or attractions, particularly if it is for a commercial purpose (scenic photography for profit).

You should be aware that there may be state or territory laws which prevent a person photographing the private activities of an individual without that individual’s consent. You must obtain consent from the owner and the occupier of the property in the form of a release.

If a photo of you has appeared in the media without your permission, such as on television or online, you should contact the Australian Communications and Media Authority. If a photo has appeared in print, contact the Australian Press Council.

If you are a producer or film recording artist are planning on filming in a public place or public building, you should ensure you have sufficient public liability insurance to cover you for your actions. Do not forget that certain locations have special approval processes for activities involving film and photography.

Photographer Form of Release and Location Release

If you are taking photos or filming on private property or in public space, you may need a Form of Release or Location Release Form drafted by a contract lawyer. Failing to obtain a Location Release could expose the producer of the photo or film to liability for breach of council regulations or trespass.

A Form of Release (also referred to as Model’s Release) may also be required. This document can be drafted by a contract lawyer to contain clauses to protect you by evidencing the agreement between you and the subject.

If you appear on an image online without your permission, you should request the business or website to take it down. If the business or website does not comply, this is considered ‘wilful use’ and you may be able to obtain higher damages, particularly if it has been used for a commercial purpose.

Conclusion

The privacy laws protecting your right to personal privacy are complex in Australia. If you are a photographer, it’s important to ensure you have the right paperwork before you commence shooting (or filming if you are producing). Our team of contract lawyers can assist you in drafting the applicable release forms, or assist you in understanding your privacy rights. Call us today on 1300 544 755 or fill in the form on this page.

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