Facebook. Baby Pictures. Photos.


Photos. Social Media. Facebook.

Do adults have rights over photos taken of them when they were children? Can children sue their parents to remove their photos from platforms such as Facebook or Instagram? These are some of the questions that will need to be answered in the not too distant future.

Camera. Photos.

Camera. Photos.

In Austria, an 18-year-old woman is suing her parents for posting roughly 500 images of her to their Facebook page without her consent. The woman told an Austrian newspaper, “They knew no shame and no limit — and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot — every stage was photographed and then made public.”

The woman not only wants her parents to remove the photos from their Facebook page, she is also seeking monetary damages. Facebook does require its users to be at least 13 years of age, but it does not have a specific policy prohibiting the sharing of children’s photos. Will Facebook and other social media sites have to adjust their policies in this regards? They may very well have to.

Taking and Sharing Photos.

The father of the woman at the heart of the lawsuit simply states that he has rights to the photos because he took them. On its face, that statement may be a bit simplistic. The woman’s attorney stated that they have a very good chance of winning the case, which is scheduled to be heard by an Austrian court this November.

Many parents and grandparents post and share photos of their kids and grandchildren on social media. Many believe this is harmless, while other parents are reluctant to make photos of their kid’s public due to the threat of improper use by potential predators and other unsavory people.

The Austrian decision on this case will surely have world-wide ramifications. The social media phenomenon is still in its early stages, relatively speaking, and there will be many issues, legal and otherwise, that will ultimately have to be addressed. Meanwhile, if there’s an embarrassing baby photo of you out there somewhere on the Internet, you may finally have some recourse.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.


Smartphone. iPhone. Scams.


Rip People Off.

Scams. iPhone.

Scams. iPhone.

I have written extensively on this blog about scams used by criminals to rip people off. Unfortunately, the scammers never rest, instead they spend their time plotting and scheming new and improved scams to separate you from your hard-earned money or steal your identity.

Some of the recent scams involve the buying of your old Smartphone. Yes, many people want to stay on the cutting edge of technology and want the latest and best equipment on the market. How many times have you watched news reports on the lines outside of closed Apple stores waiting for the release of the most recent iPhone? An astounding number of people actually camp out in front of the stores overnight to make sure they are among the first to get their hands on this technology.

Used Phones.

Having the newest technology is great, but what do you do with your expensive not-so-old Smartphone? The answer to that question has created an entire industry with companies who want to buy your “old” Smartphone, and they claim to offer you top-dollar for it.  But are these companies for real and do they really do what they say they will do?

After a lawsuit filed by the FTC and the State of Georgia, a federal judge recently shut down numerous websites dealing with the purchasing of “old” Smartphones. Laptop & Desktop Repair, the company that owns and operates several websites, including cashforiphones.com, cashforlaptops.com, ecyclebest.com, smartphonetraders.com and sell-your-cell.com, was found to be scamming customers and not following through on their promises to consumers.

The websites would attract people looking to sell their old Smartphones and give the prospective seller an online quote, but once the companies had the Smartphones in their physical possession, the price they promised suddenly decreased to a fraction of their original quote. When the customer complained, they were told that it would take weeks to process the return of their Smartphones, or they could receive a payment today. According to the FTC lawsuit, the amounts offered after taking possession were as low as 3% of the original offer given.

So, what should a person do with their used Smartphones or computers?

The FTC makes the following suggestions:

  • Trade it in. Ask the manufacturer or retailer if they’ll take your old device and give you credit toward a new one.
  • Recycle it. Ask the manufacturer or retailer if they recycle old devices. You can also see the EPA’s advice on donating and recycling electronics.
  • Donate it. Contact your local charity and ask if they accept used electronics.

Of course, always make sure that any personal information on your Smartphone or computer is deleted before letting it go.

The best advice when dealing with any online company is to spend some time researching the company, which includes reading what other people who dealt with them had to say.

Unfortunately, like death and taxes, there will always be scammers out there looking to take advantage of unsuspecting people. It’s up to you to educate yourself of your rights as a consumer, as well as tactics of recognizing the scammers and steering clear of them.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.


McDonald’s. Copyright Lawsuit. Artist Dash Snow.


Street Brand Art.



The late New York artist, Dash Snow, was well known in art circles for his “street brand” art, which included photography, collage and graffiti. Dash died in a New York City hotel in 2009 of a drug overdose at age 27. Recently, Jade Berreau his girlfriend at the time of his death and mother of his child, and executor of his estate, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against fast-food giant, McDonald’s.

Graffiti Themed Art.

The suit, filed in federal court in California, alleges that McDonald’s is using Snow’s artwork in hundreds of their restaurants without permission or compensation. The art adorns the walls of many of their “graffiti themed” restaurants throughout the United States and even Europe. The suit also states that McDonald’s is using the late artist’s iconic signature pseudonym, ‘SACE.’ The lawsuit was brought after McDonald’s allegedly ignored requests from the Dash estate to remove the artwork from their restaurants when it first became known in June of 2016.

Within the complaint, Berreau points out that at the time of his death, Dash was an acclaimed artist whose work sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at high-end auction houses. It also states that within the McDonald’s restaurants in question, the artist’s work is the most prominently displayed, and the only work from an acclaimed artist, and that at least on article appeared in the media where Snow’s name was mentioned in connection with the décor, giving a false impression of an endorsement.

McDonald’s has yet to comment on the suit.

There have been a slew of copyright lawsuits in recent years bought by artists against corporations over use of artwork. In 2014, graffiti artist Maya Hayuk filed a copyright lawsuit against the luxury accessory company, Coach, for using her “graffiti art” in a photo shoot. And in 2015 she filed a copyright suit against Starbucks for using her art in a Frappuccino campaign. The lawsuit against Coach was eventually dismissed.

It’s astounding how many people and big corporations still don’t seem to understand the fact that art, in all its forms, is afforded copyright protection under U.S. law. Using it without permission is not a smart thing to do and can trigger costly and time-consuming lawsuits.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

Social Networks. Defamation. Facebook.


Social Networks. Defamation. Facebook.

Social media networks, such as Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, FacebookLinkedIn, and others have found a safe harbor in the United States, when it comes to allowing users to do and say anything they want. Thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, these sites are almost never held liable for the content their user’s post online.  Essentially, the responsibility for libelous posts, infringing content, or simply outrageous and offensive rants generally fall on the poster of the material, not the platform that permits the dissemination of the content. It appears that defamation is supported and encouraged. "<yoastmark


However, that is not the case in other countries, where social networking sites are held to a higher standard. For example, as we speak, Germany is deliberating whether to hold Facebook accountable for its posters actions. German prosecutors are seeking to compel Facebook into holding its users accountable by removing racist and threatening posts. Is that fair? Some say Facebook and other social networking sites should not be held accountable ford the action of their users. Others say, why should they not?

Are we too lenient with people who take what does not belong to them? Do we give too much freedom to people who spew racist and defamatory content? Does our first amendment need to be changed?

What are your thoughts?

Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page. Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn discussion groups, or send me an email through my website.

Tattoo. Body Art. Millennials.


Lawsuit. Art on Body. Tattoo.

Anyone who follows social trends knows that tattoos are the rave today, particularly among the millennial generation. But can your tattoo, the art on your body, open you up to a lawsuit, particularly for copyright infringement?

The answer may come as a big surprise to many.

Figures show that more than 20 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, and among millennials, the figure jumps to more than 40 percent. If the tattoo is on your body, you may believe that it belongs to you, but in many cases that may not be true.

A slew of recent lawsuits by both tattoo artists and corporations should serve as a warning, especially if the tattoos in question are used to market products and services. In reality, a tattoo can meet the legal requirements for copyright protection.

Kobe Bryant. LeBron James.

A group of tattoo artists who rendered their services to high profile athletes such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James recently filed copyright lawsuits against the video game developer that created NBA 2K. The tattoos they created on Bryant and James were used on the digital recreations of the athletes. The case is still pending in the courts.

Several years ago, the tattoo artist who created Mike Tyson’s famous face tattoo filed a copyright lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment. A film produced by Warner Bros. showed a character getting a facial tattoo deemed “almost identical” to Mike Tyson’s. The artist and the film company settled the suit before the court could rule on it.

But regular, everyday people don’t have anything to worry about – right?

Wrong, people with tattoos of trademarked cartoon characters and the like are also technically susceptible to trademark infringement suits. In 2013 a New York coffee shop owner received a cease and desist letter from The New York State Department of Economic Development due to a tattoo he had on his fist, which the agency claimed violated their copyright on the iconic I ❤ NY logo. The coffee shop owner came to terms with NY State agreeing how his tattoo can be photographed and displayed.

The lesson is clear. If you are a business or an individual, you may be open to copyright lawsuits for displaying or using tattoos for marketing purposes. Yes, times are changing, and that means we need to stay informed on how, when and where we can use copyrighted material. Including “body art.”