Any organizer of a corporate event, concert, outdoor event, conference, etc., will sooner or later face the issue of exploiting images of participants, whether they are artists, speakers, members of staff or guests themselves.
First, it must be emphasized that the right to one’s image is part of personal rights, to which every human being is entitled and which are protected by the provisions of the Civil Code and the Law on Copyright and Related Rights. According to the basic principle, disseminating images requires the permission of the person presented therein. The violation of such principle involves the unlawful dissemination of the image taking the form of a public disclosure enabling an unspecified group of people to familiarize themselves with the image. In the event of violation or exceeding the scope of the consent and taking the matter to court by the person captured in the photo, the burden of proof rests with the person who disseminated the image.
However, the above mentioned principle which requires the permission to disseminate the image, has certain limitations, as indicated in the following three scenarios.
First, the permission to disseminate an image is not required if the person whose image was captured has received an agreed upon payment for posing. The best example is a model taking part in a paid modeling session. In such a situation, it is assumed that the model has given consent for the exploitation of their image. However, this is not absolute consent. It is limited by individual arrangements or accepted practices. Therefore, the recommended solution is to conclude an agreement regulating the scope and period of the image dissemination. It is also practical to include provisions on the exploitation of the image in agreements with speakers, hosts and event staff — hostesses, waiters, etc.
Second, despite the fact that image protection encompasses all people equally, irrespective of their profession or degree of popularity, in some cases these are relevant for assessing whether or not the exploitation of the image was permitted. Authorizations are not required for the dissemination of images of well-known people, including artists, celebrities, politicians, businessmen or athletes, as long as the image was captured in connection with their public functions, in particular political, social and professional. The doctrine of law recognizes that this only applies to the exploitation of such an image for information purposes — and not, for example, in advertising.
Third, authorization is not required for the dissemination of an image which is a detail of a whole, such as at a public gathering, or an outdoor event. These are the situations in which the image of a captured person is a random element of a wider frame rather than a cropped photo containing an easily recognizable image. However, there are no clear indications specifying how “a detail of a whole” shall be understood. Undoubtedly, we can speak of such a situation if the image —which is only an element of the presented whole — is accidental or ancillary in nature.
How to obtain a permission?
In cases other than those indicated above, the organizer, whenever deciding to use an image of a person, should obtain their consent, regardless of whether capturing the image took place in a film or in a photo. The consent may take any form, but it is recommended to express and document it in writing. However, the dynamics of the event does not always make it possible. One solution may be to obtain a clear authorization from a participant in the form of a video recording. However, it should be remembered that, apart from the permission itself, the participant should also indicate scope of authorization.
In situations where it is not possible to obtain signed individual consents, it is also permitted to use an implied authorization for the exploitation of an image. For example, this is the case with a ticketed event, where on posters, in the regulations and on the tickets there appears information indicating the event will be recorded. Therefore, if a random participant becomes a dominant element of the frame, it may be assumed that the dissemination of their image is allowed provided that it is related to the promotion of the event in which such a person decided to take an active part.
The article appeared in the June edition of “Think MICE” — a magazine for the event industry.