Member Discussion

Is It Legal To Post Images Of Minors Vandalizing Property?

I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on the legality of posting images from CCTV systems. Specifically there is a community pool that we just got done installing a HD system in. The cameras catch all types of vandalism, fence jumping, trespassing, etc. Most of the perpetrators are teenagers. We need to identify the teens in order to contact their parents. I was thinking of posting the images on the community website and requesting anonymous tips.

Is this legal? The cameras are installed in a HOA community pool.

In the US, posting images of people captured in public is extremely common and, to my knowledge, legal. By contrast, see this case in Ireland where its illegal.

One aspect I would check is the HOA rules. Perhaps there is some rule that prohibits this.

Also, since this is presumably your neighbors, their parents may fight back against you to defend their little brat angle. I'd recommend removing the images once you identify the suspects to minimize such problems.

That said, if you want to find out and stop this, posting the images online could be useful. In addition to the community website, consider Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to get it out there. The police are having success with such approach.

Mr. Fraley,

Please seek legal advise for your particular state/city/jurisdiction. The responses here, with all due respect, are opnions and not to be taken as legal advice.

It would seem to me that posting pictures of "minors" (teenagers runs the gamit from 13 y/o to 19 y/o) for "supposed" violations would get you into a world of legal hurt in most places in North America and Europe.

Do you have any example of posting non nude pictures of 'minors' causing any trouble?

Since you claim a 'world of legal hurt' an example would help support your case.

I stated an opinion, not a fact nor legal advice.

But as an example when my kids (12 and 13) go to the school district robotics tournement I am asked to sign a waiver acknowledging that their picture may be taken and that the pictures may be published in the school newsletter or appear on the local TV station report. I wonder why they ask me to sign such a waiver if it is ok to publish pictures of minors without consent?

I don't think non commercial posting of images is a problem. I'm pretty sure that the waiver is for commercial use. At least, that's what my GED in Internet Law tells me.

I do see people posting iCloud images from stolen Apple products on social media occasionally, like in this case for example.

Seriously, though, I don't think anyone here is a lawyer. Call a lawyer, pay him or her for an hour of their time, and ask them.

"the pictures may be published in the school newsletter or appear on the local TV station report"

That is common and typically necessary regardless of age. The legal issue there is personality rights / rights of publicity.

It would be like me using your name / picture in an IPVM ad without a waiver / permission. It's not about your age. It's that in the US, you have the right to control how your identity is used in promotions / commercials.

Also, schools might / often have their own rules restricting such photography on their property. I agree with you that if this was inside school property this could very well be an issue. And if the HOA has such rules, it could be an issue.

Generally, though, I know of no US laws or court cases that prohibit taking non-sexual photos of minors in public. If there are, please share.

Three important distinctions must be made between the OP's example and these other counter-examples... In the counter-examples

1) the photo is also being tagged with a name

2) the publication has certain knowledge of age

3) the photo is likely of a far higher quality

Indeed, the exported frame would mainly be useful for recognition, i.e., choosing someone that is already known, not line-up identification, per se.

And so even if

It would be like me using your name / picture in an IPVM ad without a waiver...

is wrong(on many levels), for instance the ad-copy

Undisclosed Integrator Justin Case<alt=headshot> enjoys discussing privacy issues anonymously on IPVM.

clearly is invasive, but what if his name wasn't listed and he wasn't quoted and the photo was a side shot from a group photo taken at night during a IPVM luau?

I would think the safe/easy option would be to get the police involved...

They should be notified anyway about what's happening and may even know the kids.

If they don't I would ask them if they would post something (you can give them permission for the location). Thay way they are doing it and not you and it would be especially good if it was on their letterhead and had their contact # not yours.

Btw, there seems to be some cases, or at least anecdotes, where taking pictures were part of a large harassment issue, i.e., the photographer was stalking a minor, following them, taking many pictures, etc. This is understandably a legal issue, though in Keith's case, you'd have to be an irate parent to think this is applicable there.

First: Is the video surveillance so clear it leaves no doubt the age of the offenders are minors? The video quality issue cuts both ways here...

Second: News affiliates apparently see no foul in publishing mugshots of minors. Take your pick of multiple stories or video clips like this one:

Many jurisdictions make a distinction between photos taken by 'corporations' versus individuals, artists and the media. Artists get 'freedom of expression' protection. The media gets 'freedom of the press' protection. And Individuals taking photos is so widespread that there is no way to control it. There are no constitutional protection for people who take photos for 'public safety', so watch out. Depending on jusrisdiction, Corporations that publish the photos might be sued for defamation, privacy violations, publicity violations.