In the brave new world of social media and camera phones it is
practically impossible to attend an event and not see people
whipping out their phones and taking a photograph, now within
seconds that photograph can be published world wide. It's not
just the National Security Agency, we are all collecting
information on people, so it must not be overlooked that there are
legal implications and rights which must be considered in the
process of publishing photographs.
The first rule to remember is that under copyright law, the
person who takes the photograph will usually own it and the right
to publish it. The big exception to this rule is if the photograph
was taken while the photographer was performing their role as an
employee or contractor. This doesn't mean that the owner of the
photograph is entitled to publish their photograph at will
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) considers a photograph to
potentially contain 'personal information' such as the
identity of and information about a person. This information
belongs to the person, not the photographer and the photograph
should not be published without the consent of the person or people
whose 'personal information' is contained in the
Of course, being the law, there are innumerable grey areas and
considerations that must be processed before determining whether
the photograph contains personal information and if it does whether
consent is required to publish it. This exercise will need to be
performed on a case by case basis. A good starting point is asking
whether you would be concerned about the photograph being published
if you were in it: if in doubt – get consent, particularly
when children are involved
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The legal rights and wrongs of taking photos can be confusing, so what does the law say about photos in a public place?
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