Photos of you are personal. Except in rare cases, nobody is allowed to use them, unless you give your permission. You have a right to control images of yourself. Therefore, you can refuse to let your image be copied or published.
Nobody can publish a picture or video in which you can be recognized, unless you give your permission. This includes publishing in a newspaper, magazine or advertisement, or on social networks.
If the publication of the picture or video harms your self-esteem, that is, makes you uncomfortable or causes you stress, you can go to court and ask for money to make up for the harm done.
Think It Over First!
The right to control images of yourself is a basic right. You have to protect it. You also have to respect the rights of other people to control images of themselves. So, think carefully before posting photos or videos of others online. Do you have their permission?
It is impossible to have total control over photos and videos posted on the Internet. As soon as pictures are posted online, other people can download them, edit them or share them. The consequences can be disastrous, especially in situations of cyberbullying.
Limits on the Right to Control Images
There are exceptions to your right to protect your image. This means that sometimes other people can use your image without your permission.
Here are some examples of exceptions. In other words, your permission is not needed to publish pictures taken of you in these situations:
- You are in front of a historic monument or public place, such as the Eiffel tower, where you are sightseeing along with other tourists.
- You’re a celebrity and it is therefore normal that your picture be taken! Society generally believes that famous people or people in public roles must accept to give up some privacy. This could apply to hockey players, artistic performers and politicians, for example.
- You’re in a picture that is used to inform the public. This type of situation is referred to as the "legitimate interest of the public." For example, pictures of a witness in a major court case can be published without permission.
- You’re in a crowd. For example, if you are at a hockey game or other public event, such as a student demonstration, pictures of you at these events can be published without your permission.
Important! On some social networks, the default privacy setting is "Public." This means that hundreds of millions of people have access to your pictures and videos. You can change this setting so that only your friends can see your pictures and videos.
Good to know: There are ways you can remove a picture posted without your permission on social media. Also, if a picture or video of you that is sexual in nature was posted, you can ask for help taking it off the Internet.
Watch our video about photos on the Internet (in French only):
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.