You see a flattering picture of yourself posted on theslateonline.com and you want to use it on Facebook (and goodness knows you’re seldom photogenic), but you don’t know if you can use it or not.
The pleasant news is, because of leniency in The Slate’s copyright policy, there is a way you can. But it’s not always clear-cut. And there are special rules when it comes to privacy that the press needs to follow that members of the public do not always understand.
To set a few ground rules, all photos taken in public spaces are public. All videos taken in public spaces are public. The Slate does not need your explicit permission to publish photos of you so long as the photos were unaltered in any context-changing ways, and so long as they did not violate your privacy.
When it comes to privacy, courts refer to something called the “reasonable expectation of privacy.” When you dance around on Richard Avenue with a lampshade on your head and your shirt on inside-out on a Saturday night (or Sunday morning), you are in a public space. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy because you are in plain view from the street (and on the street), and any passerby can see you.
Privacy is about control, and when you enter a public space or attend a public event, you give up that control. Public spaces on a university campus include all outdoor locations, the Ceddia Union Building, hallways in buildings and performance halls and venues.
However, if you are inside a private dwelling that you own, reporters may not break in and take pictures of you doing the same exact dance in the same exact attire. If your window is open and you are visible from the street, you may be photographed. However, if you have erected a tall fence and the reporter uses a ladder to peer over the fence and take photos, that reporter is violating your privacy.
The same rules apply to video that has not been altered in a way that changes its general context, so long as all privacy laws are followed. Nobody needs to ask your permission to take or use photos or video of you so long as they are doing it in such a way to harass you (though harassment is defined by intent and satire is not the same as harassment).
The mere suggestion that journalists must ask permission to use photos or video taken in a public space (or during public meetings) is a severe authoritarian breach of a reporter’s first amendment right to report and the public’s right to be informed.
As such, The Slate does not typically take down stories or photos. We only consider takedown requests when it is proven that the content in question violates the privacy of the individual, or the subject of the content is in clear danger and it can be proven the content amplifies or enables that danger.
The Slate always asks permission before using photos taken in places where there could be a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Photos published in The Slate, unless attributed to outside sources, are copyrighted materials. They do not belong to the photographer; rather, they belong to the organization.
Generally speaking, The Slate’s policy on other bodies using its photography is split into two categories: Organizations and individuals.
If an individual is featured in The Slate, they are not only permitted, but encouraged to upload those photos to their social media. However, that person must attribute the photo by tagging The Slate and the individual photographer’s pages on that social medium. Alternatively, they may link theslateonline.com as the source of the photo.
Organizations, businesses and groups of any other nature are required to ask permission from The Slate’s management on republishing any and all materials. Copyrighted material may not be used for commercial use under any circumstance without explicit permission from The Slate. Otherwise, it is theft of intellectual property.
As alluded to before, intellectual property is owned by The Slate. Therefore, the individual photographer may not give another body permission to republish material; only The Slate management may do so.
That being said, log onto theslateonline.com and download and reupload those great photos of yourself from The Slate’s website. It’s “insta-worthy,” to be sure.
But be sure to tag us while you’re at it.
"Your World Today" is a weekly column written by the editor-in-chief of The Slate. It represents solely the subjective opinion of the individual who wrote it. For Staff Editorial opinions, see this week's "The Slate Speaks."