publishing a photo without a release in a public awareness campaign
I am a graphic designer and recently finished a public awareness campaign in Fair Housing for the Office of Human Rights in DC gov. One of the photos I used in this bus campaign was from a person I took a picture of in a street fair 4 years ago in DC. The campaign is up an running in buses and metro stations, however the Office got a call from a lawyer, saying that this picture has caused her client employment distress. The photo is in a window and below it there is a footnote ''have you been discriminated against because you were from another country? Can they sue the Office? or me? we are pulling down all the ads, but was this really illegal? Publishing in a non-commercial way a photo of someone without their written consent? If we pull down the whole thing would that be all, can this lawyer try to get money for this?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: publishing a photo without a release in a public awareness campaign
As a professional graphic designer you should have known better. While the message was not commercial, strictly speaking, your use of it was (did you do this for free?). The aggreived party can indeed sue for damages for this, and very well may prevail.