Startsidan Statens medieråd
Lyssna på sidan Lyssna

Publicerad • Uppdaterad

What to do if someone shares a picture of you without asking

What can you do if someone shares your photos or other copyrighted material? And when do you actually have the copyright to something? We asked Frantzeska Papadopoulou, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Stockholm University.

Två tjejer i gul soffa tittar på mobil

Photo: Scandinav.

  • Most of the things we create can be protected

Most of the things we create - paintings, poems, photos of friends, or maybe videos on your mobile – can be copyrighted works.

So what you create may be protected by the Copyright Act Länk till annan webbplats..

Anything to be protected has to be original and personalised. And most of the things we create are exactly that.

  • Can several people hold copyright at the same time?

Several people might have jointly created a work that’s protected by copyright.

For example, you might have taken a photo with a friend who told you what to shoot, what the best light is and what angle to use. In that case, you own the copyright together. For the photo to be used, both you and your friend need to agree on how it can be used.

  • When is copyright infringed?

Anyone who posts your photos or videos – which are usually protected by copyright – without asking for permission is infringing your copyright.

That person is infringing your exclusive rights as the originator. That’s what the Copyright Act says.

Posting a photo or video online is the same as making a copy of the photo or video. You’re making the video or photo available to everyone else at the same time. Once something is online, it becomes available to the whole world – unless it’s published on a password-protected website.

Both copying and making available – sharing – are things that only the creator of the work can decide on. The originator, that is.

  • Why do some people use other people’s work without permission?

So why do people often publish photos taken by someone else, or copy texts written by someone else, without permission?

There may be various reasons for this. Usually people take someone else’s photos or videos because they like them, or because they don’t have a photo or video of their own to use for a presentation, an Instagram post or similar.

Exactly why they do that – that is, why they’re copying or sharing the photo or video – isn’t really of interest. What’s important is to get approval from the person who took the photo/video, wrote the text, etc. Every originator has the right to control what they’ve created. And every originator has the right to refuse to allow their works to be shared.

If you allow someone to post a photo or video that you’ve created, you have to be named as the originator.

  • What do you do if someone uses your work?

What happens if someone who hasn’t asked your permission posts your photos or videos online?

The best thing to do is contact that person and ask them to take down the photo or video. You can also contact the platform where the photo or video has been posted and report copyright infringement.

Most platforms tend to respond quickly to such accusations. The person responsible for the illegal use may be suspended from the platform for a time.

The terms of use on YouTube are a good example. There may be various restrictions on how videos can be used. For example, you can add a hyperlink to a clip, but you can’t embed the clip or take screenshots from videos without the permission of the person who uploaded the video to YouTube.

  • Who can I ask about this?

If you take a lot of photos or make videos as an artistic expression, you may want to talk to an organisation that protects originators’ rights, such as Bildupphovsrätt Länk till annan webbplats..

You can get help, support and advice from them if you need to talk to someone who’s using your material.

If nothing else works, you can file a lawsuit Länk till annan webbplats. for copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement is sometimes a criminal offence, in which case you can report it to the police as well. But to do this, there has to be a major infringement.

More from the Swedish Media Council

The Swedish Media Council works to empower children and young people as informed media users and protect them from harmful media influences. Here are some more tips!