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Futurist: A Question Who Owns Your Image.

The Futurist

The Futurist

Who owns my image?

As a futurist, I often consider the impact of technology. Overall, technology is a good thing. However, technology does have its negative aspects. It has good and bad, and we have to consider both. One of the applications within technology that many people need to consider is the reality of your image. Today I want to discuss the topic of who owns your image. I'm not talking about the picture that grandma took of you when you were eight or that picture uncle Jim took when you were seven. I am talking about that image you see in the mirror every morning. That face evolves as we age, but the core concept is that image is you. Who owns the image that represents you?

The immediate reaction, of course, is going to be Isaac. But what is ownership mean? For example, even after their deaths, celebrities consent to corporations that license their image to people using commercials. At some point, however, that person is outside of what is considered the copyright zone; in other words, that copyright expires, and that image is now freely available. One of the things that you can do now, if you wish is use the image or likeness of Albert Einstein. Even though it is recognizable and one that many, many, many people know, it is in the public domain. The public domain is that area, perhaps great or not great, where we must consider the ownership issue. I suspect Einstein and Einstein's heirs would be deeply troubled if people used his image to promote topics or conversations that he would not have supported.

Our world has evolved radically since copyright laws began many years ago. One of the things to consider is that in being outside, even if it's near your house, several cameras will likely catch your image. First, if you commit a crime in front of a camera, it is a reasonable use of that image to convict you of the crime. You, as the criminal, broke the law. In breaking the law, you sacrifice your right to have your image protected. However, let's take a use case and see if that is fair.

Thousands of cameras, thousands of copies of your image. Do you still own your own face?

A human being enters a convenience store that has cameras. The person does not see the cameras and pulls a gun out of the air jacket pocket. They point the gun at the owner of the convenience store, and they route the convenience store. Their images go to the police for use in a court of law. However the background of that video, there are eight or nine other human beings whose images are on that video. They did not commit a crime. They were simply bystanders and called in to testify. People who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time give up their image and anonymity.

At the very least, I would say that there's a certain amount of risk and that in that even if the criminal who goes away for 20 years for armed robbery forgets the faces, they can go back to that video the convicted them and see the faces of the people that convicted them. Even though, in reality, their testimony would be moot because the video will exist showing them committing a crime. Them holding the gun. There is a risk in the system of video surveillance. Yes, if you commit a crime, that image is forever. But that image is lost forever if you witness a crime captured on camera.

To give you another use case, a storeowner who has had several robberies installs video cameras throughout his entire store. Inside and outside. You are a passerby. You walk by the store every day. In fact, for the last 365 days, you've walked by that store at least once, if not twice, and sometimes three times. Ultimately you walk by three times a day. That results in 1095 images of you walking by the store. Three times a day. 65 days of the 1095 times you were walking by in one year. Who owns those images? What if the storeowner catches the images of people who walked by and have a cell phone scanner and grabbed your cell phone? Only sometimes do you walk by; you get directed advertising. The storekeeper knows you're walking by the store, the storekeeper knows your cell phone, and suddenly, they are directing advertising at you.

Understandable features cases artistry. However, they're not impossible. The second one may be implausible in the short run. But it the highly likely in the law. The first one happens today. The reality of who owns your image remains a question we have to ask repeatedly. If I walked by a camera, who owns my image?

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 DocAndersen

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