What is an inappropriate picture? It is different things to different people. Each site has its own rules concerning what is an appropriate photograph and other restrictions on posting pictures. Some photographs are inappropriate because of a legal issue due to copyright laws. There may be problems with lack of permission. Or they may be pictures that people have moral or political objections to.
Before you post anything to a networking site, you should read the rules for that site. Each site requires that you check off on a box during the sign-up process that states that you have read the rules for that site. Those rules always include guidelines for picture posting. While it may seem that this is all a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, it is important to understand the rules. All of these sites reserve the right to remove offending items and even kick people off the site for not following the rules. Rules for posting pictures frequently cause the most problems.
Copyright violations are the easiest rules to understand and are the same on all sites. The reason is that a Copyright is a protection provided by Federal and International Law. It protects the rights of the holder of the Copyright against unauthorized duplication. A Copyright Holder is the owner of a photograph. While most people think that only professional photographers can obtain a Copyright for a photograph, the fact is that everyone that takes photographs is protected by Copyright Law. In other words, according to the strictest interpretation of the law, if you did not take a picture you do not have the right to place it on your site. Now your friend will probably not take you to court for Copyright Infringement for posting pictures on your site, but a professional photographer might very well. So, do not post a picture to your site that you did not take, unless you have specific permission from the person that did take the picture.
A professional photographer gets a signed release from anyone that he takes a picture of before he uses the photo. The release specifies how he can use the picture. The only exception to this is for news worthy pictures. But even for those, a news organization will normally get permission before posting pictures. If there is someone other than you in the pictures you are posting on your site, you need to have their permission to post that picture. You probably don’t need a signed release, if they are your friends. Just make sure they know where you are posting it, and take it down if they change their minds.
The last category is the hardest to define; the pictures that your mother or minister might call inappropriate. I am not talking about pornographic, sexually explicit or graphically violent pictures. These are usually forbidden by site rules. I am talking about the pictures that your mother might think shows a little too much skin, or your minister might think shows a sexually suggestive position or your Principal might think is politically offensive. While these pictures normally do not end up in court, or getting kicked off a site, they frequently cause the most problems for young people. The reason is that sooner or later some one will show the picture to your mother, your minister, your principal or some other adult that thinks they have authority over you. Then you have to deal with them, something that is frequently less pleasant than going to court. The simplest rule to use with this type picture is: If you would not print it on the front cover of Time® Magazine for the entire world to see, don’t post it on your site.
Pictures are an important part of your identity on-line. Your site isn’t truly yours until there are pictures of you and your life on the site. If you follow some simple rules you won’t have any problems from posting pictures on your site.