I was thinking about developing a website that would involve photos and was wondering how to deal with the legal/author rights aspects.

If someone could direct me to some resources to find out, I would appreciate.

If I take Flicker as an example, people can upload pictures and share them. What if someone a picture that belong to someone else, like a professional photographer?

Or what if someone upload a picture of someone and that person does not agree to that?

Same question if someone put a picture in there that is not acceptable?

Can a Disclaimer or Terms of Use avoid the Website (or the person managing a Website) to get in trouble when someone violate the law?

  • It depends on the country the company running the website is in and where the servers are. But a TOS always has to comply with the law... – Osvaldo Apr 8 '12 at 13:04
  • Thank you. I would develop the website myself. I am in the US. – user393381 Apr 8 '12 at 13:21

You'd have to deal with these problems the same way any UGC site deals with them. Use a ToS to CYA, and then handle takedown requests as they come in. As an act of good faith, you can also provide links on your site where copyright holders or picture subjects can request that photos be taken down. As per most legal questions, you should consult a lawyer that works in your legal jurisdiction.


In Intellectual Property terms the person who uploads the photo must be the image or copyright owner for the use and display of that image.

As the website manager, if you were to put images on your site that were taken by someone else - you must ask their permission to do so, even if you found the image on public display on a site like flickr.

You can make these points in your T&Cs - however the Copyright owners will come to you directly in each case to take it down or pay a royalty. Professional photographers use TinEye to check if their images are being displayed on the web illegally.


First of all, I have no real knowledge besides a 3 hours talk I attended where a lawyer explained lots of stuff (including a little copyright). Anyway here are my thoughts:

  • I recommend you to not take any picture without permission, not just because it can be illegal, but it is not really the honorable way to act, and it can damage your reputation.
  • What I got from the talk is this: A picture is owned by the photographer, regardless where its being displayed. And in some countries if a person is on a picture she\he can prevent its publication.
  • I asked him about taking information from other websites and displaying them with references to the source, he said that it depends on my intentions, and in most cases sending an email notifying them about my doings should support a fair amount of cover. (No answer can be interpreted as an agreement)

Anyway there is a vote going on area 51 about opening a Software Law, consider committing to use it.

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