Are there laws against posting a person’s picture that is in the public domain and claiming that person is yourself on a dating or social networking site?

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Are there laws against posting a person’s picture that is in the public domain and claiming that person is yourself on a dating or social networking site?

Is that a misappropriation of name or likeness? What if the picture is not in the public domain? Is there a statute of limitations, and does that statute apply if picture was first posted years ago but might still be up?

Asked on October 10, 2012 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It's illegal in several ways. First "public domain" means there is no assertable copyright in the picture--but it does NOT deprive the person who's image it is of the right to control the use of their image. Second, representing yourself as someone other than who you are could be considered, depending on the exact circumstances, either identify theft (of the identify of the person whose picture it is) or fraud (upon people who respond to you based on the representation that you look like the other person). Third, it is most likely violation of the terms of service or use of the dating or networking site.


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