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Unauthorized Use of Personal Images on Social Media

Unauthorized use of another image of person on social media without their consent constitutes a violation of privacy rights and personal image rights. Such conduct may be subject to administrative, civil, and, in severe cases, criminal penalties. Understanding the legal framework and available remedies is crucial for anyone affected by unauthorized image use. In case you need advice, please contact Apolo Lawyers via email at or Hotline - (+84) 903 419 479 for the best advice and support.

1. Rights concerning personal images

Personal image rights refer to an right of individual to manage, control, and protect the use and distribution of their own image. This right is considered a part of privacy rights and personal data protection, legally protected to prevent infringements on private life, honor, and reputation.

1.1 Importance of personal image rights

Protecting personal image rights is crucial in the modern context where information and communication technologies are rapidly advancing. Personal images are not only related to honor and reputation but can also impact a private of individual life and career. Therefore, the use of personal images must comply with legal provisions and obtain the consent of the person depicted.

1.2 Legal framework protecting personal image rights in Vietnam

1.2.1. 2013 Constitution

The 2013 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the highest legal document establishing the foundation for protecting fundamental of citizens rights, including personal image rights.

  • Article 21 of the 2013 Constitution: Clearly stipulates that everyone has the right to protect their honor, reputation, and personal privacy. Any acts infringing on private life, personal secrets, and family secrets in any form are prohibited.

1.2.2. Civil Code 2015

The Civil Code 2015 provides specific regulations regarding personal image rights to protect individuals from infringements.

  • Article 32 of the Civil Code 2015: Individuals have rights to their own images. The use of an image of person must be with their consent, except in special cases such as for national interests, community benefits, or where the law provides otherwise. Commercial use of an individual image without their consent is strictly prohibited.

1.2.3. Cybersecurity Law 2018

The Cybersecurity Law 2018 provides measures to protect personal information online, including personal image protection.

  • Article 17 of the Cybersecurity Law 2018: Organizations and individuals are prohibited from collecting, processing, and using another person personal information without their consent, except where the law provides otherwise.

1.2.4. Press Law 2016

The Press Law 2016 regulates the responsibility of press agencies in respecting others privacy and personal image rights.

  • Article 9 of the Press Law 2016: The press is not allowed to publish images of individuals without their consent, except when the images are used for national interests, community benefits, or derived from public activities as legally provided.

1.2.5. Intellectual Property Law 2005 (Amended 2009, 2019)

The Intellectual Property Law addresses copyright over images but also emphasizes compliance with personal rights when using someone else image.

  • Article 19 of the Intellectual Property Law: The person who takes or creates an image has intellectual property rights over their work, but the use of others images must comply with personal rights regulations and obtain consent.

2. What is unauthorized use of someone else image?

Unauthorized use of someone else image refers to the act of using, disseminating, or publicly displaying an individual image without their consent. This act can occur in various contexts and may lead to legal issues and negative impacts on the rights of the affected individual.

2.1. Definition

Unauthorized use of another person image means that an individual or organization uses an image of a person without their permission. This includes taking photographs, recording videos, or copying images without consent and then using them for purposes such as posting on social media, advertising, media, or other activities.

2.2. Forms of Unauthorized Use

  • Social Media: Taking and posting images of others on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter without permission is a common form of unauthorized use. This could involve posting personal images in private or public contexts without the consent of the person in the image.

  • Advertising and Marketing: Organizations or businesses may use someone image in advertising or marketing campaigns without their consent. For instance, a company might use an individual image to promote products or services without prior approval.

  • Media: Personal images might be used in news articles, television programs, or other media content without the consent of the person depicted. Although some cases may be protected by public interest, unauthorized use of images still can infringe on personal rights.

3. Sanctions for unauthorized use of personal images

Unauthorized Use of Personal Images on Social MediaUnauthorized Use of Personal Images on Social Media

3.1. Administrative Sanctions

According to Decree 15/2020/ND-CP, acts infringing on personal image rights may be subject to administrative penalties.

  • Article 101 of Decree 15/2020/ND-CP: Stipulates a fine ranging from 10 million to 20 million VND for collecting, using, or disseminating another personal information of person without consent.
  • Remedial Measures: Required to remove the infringing information or image, restore the original state, and compensate for damages if applicable.

3.2. Civil Liability

Under the Civil Code 2015, individuals have the right to demand the removal of their images, cessation of the infringement, and compensation for damages.

  • Article 32 of the Civil Code 2015: Individuals may file a lawsuit to claim compensation for damages to their honor, reputation, and mental anguish caused by the infringement.

3.3. Criminal Liability

In severe cases, unauthorized use of personal images may be subject to criminal penalties under the Penal Code 2015 (amended 2017).

  • Article 155 - Crime of Insulting Others: Posting personal images on social media with the intent to insult someone honor or dignity may result in criminal prosecution, with penalties ranging from warnings, non-custodial reform for up to 3 years, or imprisonment from 3 months to 2 years. If aggravated circumstances are present, imprisonment may extend up to 5 years.
  • Article 288 - Crime of Unauthorized Use of Computer Network Information: Violators may face fines from 30 million to 200 million VND or imprisonment from 1 year to 5 years, depending on the severity of the act and its consequences.

4. Measures to remedy consequences

In addition to the above sanctions, affected individuals may seek remedial measures, including:

4.1. Request for Image Removal

Individuals have the right to request the removal of the infringing image from the violator or social media platforms. This ensures that the image is no longer circulated and further harm is prevented.

4.2. Request for Public Apology

In some cases, the affected party may request a public apology from the violator. This helps restore the reputation and honor of the person affected.

4.3. Restoration to Original State

Affected individuals have the right to request the restoration of the original state, including the removal of all infringing information and images and addressing any consequences caused by the infringement.

5. Real-life situations and guidance for handling

5.1. Taking and Posting on Social Media

If someone takes a photo of another person in a private or public setting and posts it on social media without consent, this can be handled under Decree 15/2020/ND-CP with an administrative fine ranging from 10 million to 20 million VND and a request for image removal.

5.2. Use of Images in Advertising

If a company uses an individual image in advertising or marketing without consent, this could violate personal image rights. In this case, the company may face administrative penalties from 10 million to 20 million VND according to Article 101 of Decree 15/2020/ND-CP. The affected person may request compensation and removal of the image from advertising materials.

5.3. Sharing Images Through Media Channels

If personal images are shared through media channels such as newspapers, television, or the internet without consent, this may also be subject to legal regulation. The Press Law 2016 requires press agencies not to publish personal images without consent, except for specific cases of national or community interest. If this action significantly harms the individual honor and reputation, they may file a lawsuit for damages under Article 32 of the Civil Code 2015.

5.4. Use of Images in Artistic Works

Using someone else image in artistic works such as paintings, photography, or videos without their consent may be considered a violation of personal image rights. If this use harms the individual honor or rights, they may request removal of the work and seek damages.

6. Guidance for Handling Infringements of Personal Image Rights

6.1. Collecting Evidence

When detecting an infringement of personal image rights, the first step is to gather evidence of the violation. Evidence may include screenshots, copies of the violating materials, and other relevant information. This evidence will help verify the violation and serve as a basis for requesting resolution or filing a lawsuit.

6.2. Sending a Warning Letter

Before taking formal legal action, the affected person may send a warning letter to the violator. The letter should clearly state the demand for image removal, cessation of the infringing act, and possible compensation for damages. The warning letter should be in writing, signed, and verified by the sender to ensure legal validity.

6.3. Requesting Image Removal

If personal images are posted on social media or other online platforms, the affected individual may request these platforms to remove the infringing image. Most social media platforms have mechanisms for users to report privacy and personal image rights violations.

6.4. Filing a Lawsuit

If the infringement is not resolved through warning or removal requests, the affected person may file a lawsuit in court. The court will review the evidence, adjudicate, and issue a ruling requiring cessation of the infringement, image removal, and compensation for damages.

In cases involving complex legal issues or significant harm, seeking legal counsel from a qualified attorney is advisable. The attorney can provide expert advice, represent the affected person in legal proceedings, and help ensure that their rights are fully protected.

7. Examples and Guidance for Handling Specific Cases

Unauthorized Use of Personal Images on Social MediaUnauthorized Use of Personal Images on Social Media

7.1. Taking and Posting on Social Media

  • Example: A person takes a photo of another individual at a public event and posts it on Facebook without their consent. The affected person discovers the photo online and feels their privacy and personal image rights have been violated.
  • Guidance: The affected person should first contact the person who posted the image or the social media platform to request removal of the photo. If this does not resolve the issue, the person may file a complaint with local authorities or seek legal advice for further action.

7.2. Use of Images in Advertising

  • Example: A company uses a person image in an advertisement campaign without obtaining permission. The person finds their image being used on billboards and in online ads.
  • Guidance: The individual should contact the company to demand that the advertisement be removed and seek compensation for unauthorized use of their image. If the company refuses to comply, the person may file a complaint with relevant authorities or take legal action for breach of personal image rights.

7.3. Sharing Images Through Media Channels

  • Example: A news outlet publishes a photograph of a person in a private setting without consent, which affects the individual reputation and privacy.
  • Guidance: The affected individual should send a formal complaint to the news outlet, requesting removal of the image and a public apology. If the news outlet does not respond satisfactorily, legal action may be pursued based on the Press Law 2016 and the Civil Code 2015.

7.4. Use of Images in Artistic Works

  • Example: An artist creates a painting using a photograph of a person without their permission, and the artwork is displayed in a gallery.
  • Guidance: The person depicted in the artwork should contact the artist and gallery to request removal of the image or artwork and seek compensation for any harm caused. If the issue is not resolved, legal action may be necessary to protect personal image rights.

Unauthorized use of personal images on social media and other platforms poses significant risks to individuals privacy and personal rights. It is important for individuals and organizations to be aware of and comply with legal regulations governing personal image rights. By understanding and applying these laws, affected parties can better protect their rights and seek appropriate remedies in cases of infringement.

For those facing issues related to unauthorized use of personal images, it is advisable to act promptly, gather sufficient evidence, and seek legal assistance if necessary. By doing so, individuals can ensure their rights are upheld and prevent further violations of their personal image.

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