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Commons talk:Photographs of identifiable people/Update 2013/Removal requests

  • Click on the 'Project page' tab, above to see the current policy/guideline wording that is under discussion on this page.
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{{divbox|amber|Proposal number and title|Introduction
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Commons-logo.svg Scope Review 2013 links:

Discuss stage 2 of this review



Links to current rules

Discussion: Introductory Scope wording

Discussion: Files

Discussion: Pages, galleries and categories

Discussion: Areas of particular concern

Discussion: Identifiable people

Other proposals


Proposal 1Edit

  • Please discuss the above proposal here

Removing images that the subject (or photographer) does not likeEdit

Images that the subject or photographer does not like should in general be removed if there are better alternatives, and the image is not in use. Commons should not be a place to store and showcase "free licensing regrets". If a creator or subject agreed to a free license on an image, and later thinks better of it -- because the result was embarrassing for whatever reason -- we should have a very good reason before dishonoring their wishes to remove the image.

This is very much like the freedom to vanish: we could tell all community members that they are out of luck, and anything they ever wrote on the wikis is freely licensed and will be publicly visible and archived forever. But we honor requests to disappear unless there is a very good reason not to. The person turning down such a deletion request has the burden of showing that this should not be done; the default is to allow it. The same should be true for orphaned images of people, if the people request it.

Similarly, images that are contested by the creator or subject should be tagged as such - and available as a category for those who want to find better replacements. When a suitable replacement is found, the original should be removed: an inoffensive image is always better than an equal-quality image that offends its subject. In some cases the subject often simply wants a more flattering picture, and can be engaged to provide one. --SJ+ 22:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

This reminds me of when I was a student (30 years ago) and the librarian in my University department had a photo on the the staff noticeboard of her when she was obviously 20 or more years younger. It was a super B&W photo, lovely portrait, she looked like a glamorous model. The trouble was, new folks would get a bit of shock when meeting her in the library as she was "suddenly" aged; however she obviously preferred it this way and nobody dare comment for fear of offending.
The point I am making is that though I agree that "uploader's remorse" and requests from models should in general be honoured, we probably do need to layout a bit of guidance as to what we mean by having alternative images and the circumstances by which other images (potentially all others) might be deleted. In practice, there are good reasons to keep a large and varied portfolio of images of politicians, celebrities and others, though as a community we can probably agree that for people where their photos are either illustrating something rather than themselves (such as "traffic wardens" or "children of Africa") or where it can be validly argued that the portfolio of photographs is sufficient to illustrate the person in a reasonably varied set of aspects of their life (Obama being a diplomat, Obama giving a speech, Obama relaxing with family, Obama at age 30), then requests to replace or reduce the number of images, can validly be done based on choosing the better quality image, or giving preference to deleting those for which the model, or other parties involved, have objected to. We may even want to point out that photos of Wikimedians, or other photos to support Wikimedia projects, are a special case as we tend to allow these if in use, similarly we ought to allow for their easy deletion using the same special case rationale. -- (talk) 09:44, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
See recent discussion at Commons talk:Photographs of identifiable people#What to do
I think the ability for the photographer to change their mind is separate from the ability for the subject to either change their mind or (more likely) inform us they never had any intention of allowing the photographer to upload the image or any intention of allowing the uploader to scrape the image off their Flickr page. I agree Commons should be generally agreeable to these wishes unless it has very good reason not to. The photographer may regret publishing/uploading the pic because he finds out his employment contract never let him do it, or because the place he took the pictures in doesn't allow commercial photography (and he doesn't want sued), etc. But those are issues for another guideline. The current "Removal requests" section is rather short. The recent discussion at the talk page raised the issue of guiding the subject/photographer as to how to get the image removed. I felt that was perhaps best dealt with on a Help page rather than a User Guideline. We probably need expansion on guidance for Commons administrators about how to deal with such requests. Any suggestions? Colin (talk) 11:58, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
  • The way I see it, if we wish to enforce the present COM:IDENT, we should remove images that are uploaded straight to Commons if the subject requests it, if and only if COM:IDENT requires consent. This is by the following logic: a) If the subject said (s)he didn't consent, and the photographer said otherwise, we wouldn't know for sure, so we'd delete. b) If the subject LIES and says that (s)he didn't consent when (s)he actually did but decided otherwise later, we would do so by (a). c) There is no sense making a policy that rewards people to lie and say that our volunteers upload photos without permission that require it.
  • However, this logic does not apply if there is any intermediate form which can be shown to have been released. For example, if a politician consents to have a photo taken in private which is uploaded to Commons, and then someone later downloads that picture and makes a caricature of it, he can't request its removal. The same goes for a photo that is first released by another place on the Internet, which we copy - with the exception that if the site does not enforce any policy on consent, that is, in which case that photo isn't evidence of anything. Wnt (talk) 21:04, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree with SJ. This goes especially for images whose subject is a private/anonymous person, and/or which were taken in a situation where the subject would have had a reasonable expectation of privacy. (I recall several deletion requests of this type that were denied, causing subjects needless grief.) --Andreas JN466 07:26, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Discussion continues at Commons:Courtesy deletions. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:17, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Proposal 2: Consent given by someone elseEdit

As somebody who has been in such a situation himself, though not on Commons: if parents or guardians consented but the children themselves later ask for the photo to be removed, then it should always, with no exceptions, be removed if the assertion that the nominator is the subject appears credible (we could even require sending a copy of an ID card to OTRS; that's what does). Opinions? darkweasel94 19:18, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

To word it into a proposal (English isn't my first language so please do correct any grammatical errors):

-- darkweasel94 19:24, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

I don't think anyone should be required to provide identification to OTRS to ask for removal of an image, certainly not to send copies of ID cards to random volunteers on some internet project. Also, does this apply to any photograph of a child, or only those requiring consent? Related are where the "someone else" (not just parent-child) assumes the consent they got was good enough for Commons but in fact it wasn't. Perhaps they only really got consent to have the photo taken and not to be published on the internet, or only for Flickr and not Commons, or only for a medical journal and not the 8-million readership of Wikipedia's main page. So can we expand this to all situations where a third party assumes or makes consent decisions on behalf of someone else, and this assumption or choice turns out later to be incorrect or against that person's wishes? Coming back to the OTRS issue, I'm thinking patient images. These are often taken on condition of anonymity. The patient shouldn't have to break this anonymity in order to have it removed. Things might be different if Commons had paid staff for this who had a professional duty of care towards private information, but OTRS (in my understanding of it) doesn't meet that requirement. -- Colin (talk) 20:01, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, perhaps the part about OTRS really was not a good idea. I only know that does it like that because I once had something removed from there myself. If an assertion of identity in a regular DR is enough, then that is of course even better. As for whether it should be used only for photographs requiring consent, I have no strong opinion about borderline cases, but I definitely think that photos of unrelated objects should never be deleted just because there also happens to be an identifiable person (child) somewhere in the picture. darkweasel94 20:16, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Am I correct in understanding that this applies only to images where consent is not implicit? For example, if you are marching in a parade in the U.S., someone can take your picture and publish it without requiring any explicit consent. I do not think it would be appropriate that anyone could come along, claim to be the subject of the photo and to have been underage at the time it was taken, and unilaterally get to delete it. Similarly for someone performing in a band, who might happen to be underage. - Jmabel ! talk 04:59, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Discussion continues at Commons:Courtesy deletions. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:18, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Proposal 3. Where the subject objects, image is removed promptly and quietly pending unambiguous evidenceEdit

It seems to me that to be in compliance with the WMF's Resolution on Images of Identifiable People, we need to give the subject a) privacy for their request, and b) the benefit of the doubt. Here is a proposal I raised informally at Commons talk:Photographs of identifiable people#What to do.

The advantages of this would be

  • It would be humane and would contribute to public trust in the process, in particular by avoiding the en:Streisand effect and avoiding insensitive comments in deletion reviews,
  • It would avoid having to make a lot of fine distinctions and difficult judgement calls in advance, and
  • It would be efficient for the great majority of images, in particular the ones where we can make a reasonable but not airtight judgement that the image either is not invasive or is posted with permission.

The only thing that gives me pause is the question of establishing subject identity while still respecting the subject's privacy. There may be false claims by people who are not the subject but simply object to the image. This concern probably applies to any policy we adopt here. Dankarl (talk) 15:33, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Hoping for some clarifications:
  • Are you saying that both the person & location must be "unambiguously public"? Meaning that anyone who is not a "public person" could preemptively get any photograph in which they are identifiable removed? And does that apply to every individual in the photo? Because that would concern me: it would make it almost impossible to have photographs of political demonstrations, crowds at concerts, etc. if any one person in the photo, or anyone claiming to be a person in the photo, could get it removed. For example, I don't think we should even have to consider removing a photo of a sports event because someone identifiable in the crowd behind the athlete objects to the photo.
  • What would be the status of each of the following as being taken in a public location?
    • A street musician
    • A person marching in a parade
    • A person attending a parade
    • A person giving a public lecture
    • A person attending a public lecture
- Jmabel ! talk 15:13, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
  1. No, either unambiguously public location OR unambiguously public figure would qualify to keep
  2. For your examples, essentially all would be public places, considering you qualified the lecture as public. However, a University lecture restricted to registered students, or a venue known to restrict photography, would not be fully public. At the moment, we are ignoring "no-photography" restrictions as being between the photographer and the venue. However if the subject chooses to assert that they had an expectation of privacy due to such a restriction we should respect that assertion. The examples on the policy page all have to do with highly-intrusive images where the individual is the primary subject. Backgrounds of sports events and other instances of people appearing incidentally could readily be obscured by pixelation or cropping, and maybe the page needs to say this.
Remember, this is not a proposal for premptive removal or pre-qualification, but a proposal for how we respond to deletion requests "Where the subject objects...". The notion is that there are a lot of grey areas, and that most subjects will not consider their privacy violated by photographs of ordinary activities, even if the location was not fully public. If we simply say that we will take down grey-area images upon request, then we do not need to make a lot of detailed rules.Dankarl (talk) 17:49, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

This is a topic of considerable community interest/importance. Please see Commons talk:Project scope/Update 2013/Stage 2 to discuss how we should proceed from here. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:18, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Well, this looks quite similar to the process of DMCA Takedown Notice. I think this issue should be dealt by the designated agents. And clarification is needed about how should we do when if only some of the subjects in the group picture objected. Taking down the whole picture when just one of the 10+ subjects objected to be hosted does not make sense. This could be dealt by anonimization (blurring etc.). – Kwj2772 (msg) 10:29, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Discussion continues at Commons:Courtesy deletions. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:18, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the project page "Photographs of identifiable people/Update 2013/Removal requests".