Dear Editors: A lady who is a very distant acquaintance (and I’m not “friends” with her on facebook) is using my deceased father’s photo as her Facebook profile image. While this is unquestionably distasteful and disrespectful to my dad and our family, do I have a legal right to refuse her usage of his photo? I do personally find it offensive and harmful, as does my mother. My dad died a tragic death due to alcohol and pain killer dependency. Shortly prior to his death, he and my mom were talking about separating because addiction was incredibly hard to deal with. There are rumors that during these months he and this lady were buddy-buddy; to what extent I cannot say for sure. I have sent her two private messages which were, obviously, ignored.
Selena: What a rotten person. Seriously, that’s just tacky. Legally, you may not have that much of a leg to stand on, however. If you took the photo, or you know who did, you may be able to compel Facebook to remove it with a copyright claim. The copyright owner, if you/they can prove it, can issue a DMCA takedown notice through Facebook. If the image doesn’t have a registered copyright, you can still pursue action as the copyright owner, but you’re limited in any damages you might be able to collect, and in this case it’s unlikely that her using the image is harming you financially, which makes it tricky. There’s no asshole provision in copyright law.
PileOfMonkeys: Morally? This woman has left all semblance of class and good taste far behind in her rear view mirror. Unfortunately, legally, I don’t think there’s anything you can do. Facebook is notorious for not giving half a shit about what is done with people’s pictures. I’d say block her for your own peace of mind.
QueSarahSarah: This lady sounds like a total tallulah (and not the good kind) and POM’s advice to block sounds like the best action. If she’s already ignored a couple messages, I don’t think she cares what the deceased’s family thinks.
Sally Sassy Pants: The woman posting her father’s picture is tacky, sure, but in the world of social media, these things tend to give some people peace. As my grandma would say, “Don’t stoop to her level.” Be classy. Leave it. Be annoyed by it, sure, but leave it be. This lady’s level of class will come to haunt her.
Slay Belle: I’m not sure what rights she has by FB or anything, but if I were here – and I can get downright petty – I would tell everyone I knew that she was using my dad’s picture even though we had asked her not to, and that she had refused any attempt to contact her about it. Shame her.