Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Laws vary so you should research the specific laws in your locality and state.
It’s a fact of life now that any public incident you are involved in could be recorded and put on YouTube for the world to see… and judge.
This is true if you are guilty of a crime, get in a fight or say something offensive. But many of these things could be taken out of context. Or you could be taped in a situation you thought was private.
We look at your rights and what to do if you’re recorded without your permission:
Being recorded: Your rights
While in public, you should have no expectation of privacy. So, don’t do anything in public that you wouldn’t want to see on YouTube.
However, there are some exceptions. In some situations, you may stop use of your image online:
1. Invasion of privacy. You can stop the use of your image on the Internet if you are portrayed falsely and in a highly offensive matter. For example, if your image is posted on the website of America’s Most Wanted and you are not wanted by the law.
In addition, if your privacy was intruded upon in a setting in which you had a reasonable expectation of privacy, then you may be able to stop use of this image. For example, if your significant other took intimate photos of you inside a private home, then you broke up and they posted the images online.
2. Violation of right of publicity. You may be able to stop use of an image of yourself if the image is being used for commercial purposes; that is, to sell a product or imply that you endorse a product.
3. Defamation. This is when an image of you creates a false impression and injures your reputation. For example, if someone photoshops or manipulates a video to make it look like you’re stealing. However, simply an unflattering photo or video is not enough to stop the use.
How to get that video of you taken down
File a complaint with YouTube
1. Navigate to the video on YouTube and click on the More option under the video’s title.
2. Click on Report (with the flag icon).
3. Select Infringes My Rights as the reason you’re reporting this video.
4. Click Submit
Flagged videos are reviewed by YouTube staff 24 hours a day and will determine whether the video violates Community Guidelines. Keep in mind that you need to have a YouTube account to flag a video.
When you should consider getting a lawyer
You typically have 1-3 years to file a claim, depending on your jurisdiction.
Most online defamation situations “rarely blossom into lawsuits.” Sometimes just the act of attorney intervention will push the defamer to remove the recording from the Internet.
But you should note that to win a defamation lawsuit, you must be able to prove that:
• Someone published or publicly broadcast an unprivileged lie;
• The “untruth” was about you;
• The content caused you material or reputational harm; and
• The person posted the content with either negligence or actual malice.
Some lawyers specialize in online defamation. A quick search of “online defamation lawyer” on Google will bring up options of attorneys you may choose to get help from.
Your fifteen minutes of fame – or shame – are no longer just fifteen minutes. Always remember that if you’re in public, anything you do can be filmed and put online.