international photographs and permissions from their subjects

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  • I must admit up front that I know the following case study is not a copyright question at all. But it is so closely related in a workflow that many of you can appreciate that I would like to start here.

    A world-traveling photographer is donating digital versions of recent photographs documenting human rights abuses (child labor, in particular) to a public cultural institution. There is faculty interest in having open access to these images. The copyright issue is clear: the photographer is granting the institution the rights to these images. But does the institution need the permissions of the subjects (or parents/guardians of underaged) before making these images available online? The institution is proceeding by restricting access to institutional affiliates, but I think that's a fair use procedure that may not be relevant to this permissions issue. Does the institution need the subjects' permissions to make this openly available? What about not openly available, but with access restricted to institutional or maybe just course affiliates?

    Opinions are welcome, but I would especially appreciate pointers to resources on this issue that I could present to institutional counsel if/when we turn to that office.

  • I know virtually nothing on this subject, but I'll try to find out.

    Here's a link that might be useful. Scroll down to privacy and plubicity rights.

    I'll post again in a couple of days. Hopefully someone who knows something will post before then, but traffic on this forum seems to be slow right now.
  • The privacy rights about which you ask are generally governed by state law, so, unlike copyright, there is no way to give "one size fits all" advice. This website breaks down the different elements of privacy rights and might give you some encouragement, since the photos you describe *may* not infringe any of these types of privacy (depending on where they were taken):

    Nevertheless, you should probably be sure of the specific laws in your state.

    One issue is how old the photos are. Privacy rights do not generally survive past the death of the subject, so if these are older photos that may be a consideration. But there are exceptions to this rule -- in the Vince Foster case the Supreme Court found that Mr. Foster's privacy rights covered his family's ability to control the use of post-mortem photos, presumably based on the blatant intrusion into a private domain.

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