Do you post photos of your ancestors on your genealogy or family history blog? Have you put those photos on Facebook? There’s a chance that those photos may be stolen and used without your permission. Such was the sad situation for a mother who had a photo of her daughter used in an ad for a genetics company.
It has been said that once something is posted on the internet, the person who posted it can lose control over where it goes. This is especially true for photos. There are people who steal photos from the internet and use them without permission.
Honest people learn where to look for photos that have been released under creative commons. Business and professional blogs need to take care to ensure that they have permission to use the photos they want to include on blogs and in ads.
Big problems can happen when people neglect to follow the rules about what photos they can use, and which photos they are not allowed to. It can bring heartbreak to the person who owns the photo. It can also potentially bring litigation to a business that used a photo without permission.
Christie Hoos is a mother of a beautiful daughter named Becca, who has Down syndrome. Christie wrote about the challenges and joys of parenting a child with Down syndrome on her personal blog, and included a photo of Becca it in.
Later, another parent informed Christie that she saw Becca’s photo in an ad. That can be a very shocking thing for a parent to learn. Even worse, the ad was from a company called Genoma, which is a Swiss-based genetics laboratory.
The ad was for a genetic prenatal screening kit that can determine whether or not a fetus has Down syndrome. The implication was that those test kits would be used by parents who might consider terminating a pregnancy if they learn the fetus has Down syndrome.
Christie contacted Genoma about the use of her child’s photo in their ad. The company said they got the photo from an image bank. That image bank made it appear that people could legally use the photos from their website in advertisements. Genoma did not know they weren’t allowed to use the photo of Becca. They have since stopped using Becca’s photo.
This situation is something that genealogists and family historians need to keep in mind. If a family photo is especially precious to you, there is good reason to decide not to post it on the internet. Some awful person out there may steal that photo and use it in ways you would not approve of.
Image by Sarah-Rose on Flickr.
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