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Talk:Privacy rights

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Are we being too strict?[edit]

I think we've been a bit too strict when it comes to this. As far as I can see, Wikitravel itself would be considered an "editorial" work, which means that we have pretty broad rights to use pictures of people. Now it's true enough that somebody could grab a picture from Shared and use it to sell kiddie porn, which would no longer be editorial, but this is not our fault: the liability in this case will rest purely with the guy using the photo.

Should we consider allowing relevant pictures of people with a "No model release -- editorial use only" tag attached to them? Jpatokal 23:06, 10 September 2007 (EDT

Legality. I do not have a clue. But, the following is copied from Wikishared:However, in public spaces people give up a certain degree of privacy, which means that they can be photographed (and cannot stop the process). At Wikitravel, this is generally interpreted conservatively to mean that identifiable people in a picture should be peripheral to the picture content. For example, you can upload a picture of a crowded market or plaza, as long as you could take out or substitute any given person in it without materially affecting the picture. I fully agree with this text, although, this text is not included in the Wikitravel image guidelines.
I just wrote that about two days ago... but what I'm saying above is that even recognizable people should be OK, as long as they're used only for editorial purposes. Jpatokal 23:13, 11 September 2007 (EDT)
Since we have to avoid and reduce legal risks, I think we have to accept being nervous and strict.
BTW, it is not clear for me because of my English speaking ability that a sentence from Dan Heller Photography; Still, 99% of the people reading this text can rest assured that unless people are clearly and unambiguously identifiable in a way that a judge would be able to say, "yes that's him," you don't need a release [1] . Can I say this simply that the criteria of identifiability are both people in photos are clearly identifiable and people in photos are unambiguously identifiable ? If so, I feel that a photo of person's face taken from the side can't be said unambiguous even if it is clear. Though, this feeling may be in conflict with my first sentence... -- Tatata 23:36, 11 September 2007 (EDT)
Given the fact that any crackpot seems all too eager these days to find a lawyer and try to make a buck (here in the US anyhow) I'd say we want to err heavily on the side of caution. The current standard of "no identifiable individuals" is a very safe one, even if it's too strict for 99.9% of cases. -- Ryan 02:42, 12 September 2007 (EDT)

FWIW, here's the policy at Wikimedia Commons. You'll note that it's way more liberal than ours:

In the United States (where the Commons servers are located), assent is not as a rule required to photograph people in public places. Hence, unless there are specific local laws to the contrary, overriding legal concerns (eg defamation) or moral concerns (eg picture unfairly obtained), the Commons community does not normally require that the subject of a photograph taken in a public place has consented to the image being taken or uploaded. This is so whether the image is of a famous personality or of an unknown individual.
...Commons images are released under wide licences, but without any guarantee that they are free of non-copyright legal restrictions on re-use. Someone re-using in a derogatory manner an unexceptional Commons image of an identifiable subject might run the risk of the subject suing for defamation. But since neither the photographer, the uploader nor the Foundation have encouraged such defamatory use, the image itself is still perfectly acceptable to Commons. The fact that a photograph is capable of being misused does not mean, in itself, that it is objectionable here.

We can't stop crackpots from trying to make a buck, but based on the above, they would not have any leg to stand on. Jpatokal 07:15, 12 September 2007 (EDT)

I won't jump into the legal discussion, because I wouldn't know what I'm talking about. But I've always appreciated the privacy policy for two reasons. First, it seems an ethical stance to say that we won't use people's personal images in an effort to respect their privacy. Pictures of say Masai tribesmen taken without permission and then used to promote others' commercial interests have always seemed a bit exploitative to me. We have been pretty restrictive about bringing ethics into our policies, however, and I don't know whether this is an issue for which we should. Second, on a more practical level, this policy discourages image uploads of images containing travelers, which IMO have no place in a serious travel guide. --Peter Talk 14:25, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
To be clear, I understand that legally there is every reason to believe that most photos used on Wikitravel would pass legal muster. My argument above about crackpots and the US legal system is made from the standpoint of eliminating ALL doubt about legal issues, and "no recognizable people" meets that goal. Under the current policy, in the highly unlikely possibility that someone tried to sue me for using a picture of the back of their head there is ZERO chance of their prevailing in a courtroom, and every reason to believe they would have to cover any court costs I would incur since the suit could only be seen as frivolous. However, if the argument is the more nuanced "was this taken in a public place, and is the subject of the photo significantly changed with or without the person's presence in it" then I'm probably still going to prevail, but would have to endure a hassle. For the safety of contributors who may not be aware of privacy rights laws it just seems best to err on the side of caution to eliminate any potential for trouble. -- Ryan 02:05, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
The problem with that approach is that not only are you throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but you can still get sued. Eg. there's some debate as to whether the lighting of the Eiffel Tower is copyrighted and whether you're allowed to take pictures where post-1990 buildings are the primary subject. Jpatokal 02:16, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
I definitely feel our policy it too tight, but the legal side of this isn't my strong point. How does LP and other printed guidebooks handle this? I doubt they have model releases for every one of the pics they publish in their guides. – cacahuate talk 02:25, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
Actually I'd bet that LP do have clearances for their photos. One of the reasons why stock photographs are so expensive is that they usually come with the needed legal clearances. For reference, I knew absolutely nothing about model releases until I was approached about selling some photos, and in the process of investigating the photography market discovered that model releases are a big issue among photographers who sell their work; luckily I mostly photograph landscapes and animals ;) -- Ryan 02:35, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
Ironically I work in photography and probably should know more than I do about this... but I just can't imagine that a photo in LP of some random Pakistani kids involved a model release... but I could definitely be wrong. I spent a couple of days in Amritsar with a National Geographic photographer too once, and the photos he was taking for his stock agency weren't being backed up with releases (as far as I could tell). I did see a NG photog in a South Luangwa hounding a giraffe for a sig once though... or was that a cig... hhmmmm – cacahuate talk 03:00, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
Many photography sites also discuss risk in relation to model releases - the odds of being sued in a US court by an African tribesman for a privacy violation is a hair over zero, but the same photo shoot in London or New York would probably involve signing a release. Also note there are exceptions in the law for photos used for journalism, but if those same photos were to be used in (for example) a National Geographic calendar then the journalism exception wouldn't apply. All in all it's a confusing field, which is why it seems (to me) that the best rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution. -- Ryan 03:08, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
As far as I understand it the crux of the issue is the use of the photo. Wikitravel is by any definition "editorial"/"educational", so we're pretty much in the clear, and Wikitravel Shared is just a repository, so it's even more so. But model releases quickly become necessary when you start endorsing things (ie. implying the people in the photo support something), and that's what stock photography with model releases is usually used for: happy shiny people you can stick in your ads to say that Widget 2.0 is the greatest thing since Widget 1.0.
Illustration: if I caption this as "Wikitravel founder Evan drinking bia hoi in Hoi An", it's fine. If the brewer "Biahoiser: The Beer of Kings" plasters the same pic in an ad campaign all over Vietnam and captions it "This guy loves Biahoiser!", Evan could sue their pants off, because CC license notwithstanding, he hasn't agreed to endorse their beer. But he can't sue Wikitravel, because it's not WT's fault the pic was used that way. Jpatokal 13:09, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
Question. As I stated at the top of this discussion. I am in favor of the text that Jani says he added two days ago. My question is:What authority did he have to add it? I am not rying to start a battle, I thought when something as relevant as this was changed, (even though I agree with it) it had to be exposed to community input. Did I miss something again? 2old 13:41, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

There was a problem with the existing text, as it did not match our general practices and had been added without debate (or much notice); Jani just corrected the text to match general practice in the probably correct belief that no one would object. And if anyone did object, we can always discuss it at Talk:Image policy. No one has any "authority" beyond anyone else and anyone can edit our policies, so long as they respect that it is necessary to heed consensus.

On another note, my problem with the argument that "the crux of the issue is the use of the photo" is that if we allow images given the type of use they will see on Wikitravel, then we will need to change our Copyleft. The copyleft states that

Copyleft means that every single author, editor, illustrator, mapmaker, factchecker and photographer who puts their work into Wikitravel Shared gives you the right to read, copy, print, save, download, read aloud, project, modify, email, distribute, sell, photocopy and correct their work however you want.

It seems to me that this would become misleading if we were to allow files that do have restrictions upon their usage. --Peter Talk 18:37, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

There's already an exception built into Copyleft: [Your work] can be used for commercial ventures, advertisements, or other purposes (with some restrictions -- see privacy rights and publicity rights) without your direct control. Please remember that copyleft concerns only copyright, and people have other rights as well. Jpatokal 23:25, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
This seems to be an issue (Legal), that we should ask IB for guidance on. Whatcha think. They are a very quiet bunch. 2old 09:55, 14 September 2007 (EDT)
If someone discovered themselves in a Wikitravel photo that had been taken without their permission or awareness, would we be willing to remove the photo, or would we shrug and point to the implicit editorial permission? Gorilla Jones 17:06, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

Image question[edit]

Swept from pub:

I found this file on Flickr and uploaded it to Wikimedia Commons for possible use here. My question is, if I shrink it down enough so as to make the people in the picture unrecognizable, is it usable here? LtPowers 16:49, 12 June 2009 (EDT)

I think it's fine. It would be a stretch to identify any of these people, and they're not the principal subject of the photo (which is the most important part of that policy, IMO). If you want to go a little further, you could add a little extra blur over the faces, using Gimp, Photoshop, or whatever floats your boat. --Peter Talk 21:10, 12 June 2009 (EDT)
In the preview version, I'd say it's fine. If you look at the full resolution version, the people in the yellow car are quite clear. If you don't use that full-size version here, it shouldn't be a problem — or you could add a slight blur on the people up front as Peter suggested. Some people are already blurred by the light exposure. Gorilla Jones 21:48, 12 June 2009 (EDT)