Asked in Copyright and Internet Law for Texas

Q: Can my apartment complex use my image without permission on a promotional account?

My apartment complex posted my picture on their public, promotional Instagram page (taken without my permission from MY instagram), along with my full name and (given that it is their own Instagram) basically my address. I was neither informed prior OR tagged in the photograph, so was I not notified and only happened to come across the picture by chance. Thoughts? This doesn’t seem entirely legal and in theory could endanger my life (the internet can be a scary place - don’t want murdery guys knowing what I look like, my full name and where I live). I’m also a reasonably attractive 21 year old girl, I’m pretty sure that might have been part of the appeal.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Joseph Hoelscher
Joseph Hoelscher
Answered
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: You should check your lease. However, a standard lease doesn't include those rights. In Texas, you have a property right in your image. Certain public images may still be used without permission, but not generally for commercial purposes. For example, if you walk through a live newscast at a crime scene, then you can't sue for damages. Generally, unless you have given permission (check your lease), then they shouldn't be doing that.

Benton R Patterson III
Benton R Patterson III
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Dallas, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: You probably cannot use the law to force them to remove the picture. The instagram terms of use most likely permit images that you post to instagram to be reposted by other users. If they take your picture and post it on their website or somewhere else, and you own the copyright to the picture, you could have it removed. I would recommend asking them to remove it and expressing your concerns. Most these types of copyright disputes are settled without needing an attorney.

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