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Posting yearbook pictures to classmates.com

Michael Smith , Apr 11, 2002; 05:33 p.m.

I was going to scan in the pictures of my high school graduating class from 1974 to classmates.com. I will not receive any money for this. I thought it would be a good public service. A friend of mind said it might be a bad idea. Can I legally do this? Is it socially acceptable. I would put my e-mail address on it, so if anyone didn't want there picture shown, I could remove it. I was planning on doing one photo per page. I would edit the photo and clear out the person's picture that didn't want it shown. It this OK? The photo gallery is restricted to those people that registered as graduating from my high school for that year.


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Robert Kennedy , Apr 12, 2002; 01:04 a.m.

Well, anyone in a year book has tons of copies out there already. Plus most schools keep a copy from each year in the library. I'm not sure legally what the situation is, but I can't see how one could complain that their photo from a yearbook was published.

Justin Lee , Apr 12, 2002; 01:15 a.m.

I wouldn't.

Personal Privacy and consent-based everything seem to dictate the way the world works now. Some people might consider that invasive.

As a general rule when it comes to personal information/privacy/databases, you can't (and it's most likely illegal) do anything without the subject's express permission.

As an example, the Commerce Faculty at my University used to publish a collective resume book of its students which included their mug shots. Some people complained, and support for the mugshots amongst the students amounted to 10% against and 90% for. Despite this, the decision was made to axe the pictures. Well, that's the folklore at least.

My thoughs,

Noah Bryant , Apr 12, 2002; 02:16 a.m.

It's probably a bad idea but I would do it anyway. Legally I don't think you can but I hate the people that whine about things like that so I would do it anyway.

The worst that could happen is you get a email asking you to remove it and you remove it, play stupid and that's the end of it.

Robert Kennedy , Apr 12, 2002; 02:47 a.m.

See, I can't see how they could really complain. I mean it ain't like you went out and secretly took their picture and then published it. They already consented to have this picture taken and published.

Now the YEARBOOK people might be able to complain.... But how could the subject?

And if they do, they are too whiny....

Paul Berard , Apr 12, 2002; 08:04 a.m.

Here's the crux of the matter. When the yearbook photographs are taken, they are then processed and you can then purchase them from the photographer. You've probably noticed that some people might be missing or simply listed by name. These would have moved in too late to get the photographs taken, or didn't want them in the first place.

The catch is: when they purchased the photographs from the photographer, they would have had to fill out a form to get the prints. I would be more than willing to bet that this also included a general waiver to the person's rights to the photograph to be used ONLY in filling the customer's order and probably something to do with the yearbook, although this would depend on who and how it was put together.

Do you have any legal rights to these images? Only if you were the original photographer, the company, or it's your photograph. I know that others here have posted that they'd do it just to rant against those who would justify this project, but seriously, if something were to come back at you, it's you - not them - who gets the fun of dealing with it.

I'd advise you not to, at least until you have some idea what was signed and how that affects future printing (scanning IS printing, just as web publishing IS publishing) rights. You're also dealing with personal images of people, so even if they have signed the waiver and you figure your in the clear, they may come at you still for publishing photographs from a small, closed market into a large, open market.

joseph ho , Apr 12, 2002; 08:24 a.m.

rights involving yearbooks cant be too bad although i dont know for sure what they are exactly. i do know that out in the real world, our yearbook could potentially be in plenty of trouble. every pic in it was done in house with no paperwork between yearbook as a group seperate from the school and the people featured in the photos. sounds pretty illeagal to me!

Alec Jones , Apr 12, 2002; 10:25 a.m.

It's not just "pretty illegal", its absolutely illegal. You have no ownership rights in the pics and are subject to an infringement lawsuit by the publisher, who owns the rights. In these litigious times, unless you are a pauper, why assume the liability? All chance - no gain. If I were a parent of a deceased child, I might not be happy either to see the picture published, when told by a classmate who sees them posted.

Dan Woodlief , Apr 12, 2002; 10:55 a.m.

Personally, I hate it too when people whine about privacy to the point that they would mind what you are talking about. I seriously doubt any yearbook publisher is going to come after you, that is if they know about it at all. However, I do think there are enough people out there in today's world who do get very concerned about anything that looks like an invasion of privacy, that I would be concerned about that side of it. People might think it offers yet another way for someone to look up information about them on the Internet, and a lot of people just don't like that idea at all. There are also those who just didn't look so hot back in 1974 (so they threw the paper album away years ago) and criminals on the run who don't want their pictures out on the Web :) What it comes down to is I don't think what you are doing is necessarily wrong, but it could upset someone.

Gary L. Behr, CPC , Apr 12, 2002; 11:19 a.m.

With rare exceptions, photographs are Copyrighted to the creator, NOT the buyer, and copyright exclusivity would certainly apply for the photographer who took your images.

Bottom line, unless you have specific written permission from the photographer, it is ILLEGAL to copy or reproduce the image in ANY form. That's Federal Law! (Title 17 of the U.S. Code)

If you are willing to risk statutory damages up to $150,000, confiscation of any equipment (i.e. computers) used for replication and possible incarceration, plus legal fees (SS 503-506 et al), then by all means, go use someone elses Copyrighted image.

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