What are Image Rights and why should You care?

Image is everything. A picture is worth 1000 words. I am sure you have heard one of those quotes somewhere. And it is true that when creating and promoting a brand online, using pictures is one of the most effective ways of communicating with your audience. However, in the era of Data Protection, if not correctly done, the use of someone’s picture without their consent can lead to disastrous consequences.

The reason behind this is that the Data Protection Act protects personal data and recognizes an individual’s right to consent before their data can be collected or reproduced for commercial purposes. A person’s image is classified as personal data and can not be used without their consent.

Case Studies

To understand what is happening it is important to look at some of the cases that have arisen on the issue. Late last year the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner stunned the country when it issued a penalty notice against Oppo Kenya and fined the company 5 million shillings. The root of the issue was image rights, Oppo had used someone’s image commercially without their consent which led the person to file a complaint.

In a second-of-its-kind, Kabianga University was also ordered by the High Court to pay a person half a million shillings as compensation after it used their image without their consent. The crux of the dispute was that the university was accused of using his image in online marketing and soliciting funds from a regional bank without his consent.

What does this mean?

What these cases mean is that as a company you need to be extremely careful when using anyone’s image to promote or market your products. It is important to get the consent of the person in the picture and where it is impossible to get this consent, it is better to use copyright-free images from the internet.

Where you need to use that particular image, it is important to get the consent of the person in the photo. You can do this by giving them a consent form to fill out and sign.

Has someone ever used your photo without your consent? How did you feel about that?

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