How the new GDPR Law will affect Photographers

A new law on the processing of personal data in the European Union came into force – the GDPR, which tightened the rules for handling personal data of EU citizens.

Legal entities began to prepare for the transition to its requirements, long before the enactment of the regulation came into force. And this is no accident – companies that violate the letter of the law can receive a fine of up to 20 million euros.

However, how will this law affect ordinary citizens? Recently, an interesting question came to the mail of our company:

As a new law, the GDPR will affect photographers, especially street ones, in whose photographs people often identify clearly identifiable people. How is it possible to publish such frames without breaking the law?

We decided to further clarify the issue. Firstly, the standards that exist before in EU countries that regulate the photography of people in public places remain unchanged:

  • As a rule, there are no direct prohibitions on the presence of people in general pictures, when the subject is not the main subject of photography (except for Hungary, judging by information from public sources, people can be present in photographs only if their identification is impossible or represents significant difficulty (from the back, blurred, etc.).
  • Portrait photography is allowed with the consent (enough verbally).

But if you are going to publish your image somewhere and benefit from it, for example, by sending a photo to an exhibition, then a separate consent may be required for publication.

It is desirable that it be issued in writing. Moreover, this is not a formality, the legal consequences of the uncoordinated placement of photos are quite real.

Remember two nuances:

  • Shooting children is allowed with the consent of the parents (sometimes the child’s consent is enough). The publication of images is also subject to separate consent.
  • Shooting with the objectives of the subsequent publication of images and deriving from this benefit are allowed either by agreement or by contract.

At the same time, the GDPR makes some attempt to liberalize the provisions of the law in terms of artistic expression (photography can also be attributed here).

Thus, in accordance with clause 153 of the Preamble to the Regulations “… the processing of personal data only for journalistic purposes or for the purposes of scientific, artistic or literary expression must be subject to exclusion or exclusion from the specific provisions of these Regulations”

So the authors of the law strive to find a balance between the right to data protection and freedom of expression and dissemination of information declared in Article 11 of the Charter of the European Union on Human Rights.

The document clearly indicates the need to interpret categories relating to such freedom, such as journalism, in a broad sense.

In fact, the harmonization of standards is likely to be not a quick process (documentation is more or less brushed out now in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands), so for the time being you should focus on publicly available standards for photographs of people.

As for the publication, the fundamental importance, as has been said before, is the consent of the person, expressed in such a form that the photographer can confirm his receipt (preferably in writing).

When making a profit, you may need to resolve the issue of deductions or compensation to the person who was photographed.

But if you’re a simple amateur photographer who posted an image on his Facebook profile, then you shouldn’t worry.

Even if someone from the citizens of the European Union sees him, he only has the right to demand its removal.

If you did not violate personal rights with your picture (for example, removing it in an indecent state), then you should not be afraid of fines.

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