OH MY GOODNESS!! Person X is talking bad about me.
Person X won’t stop harassing me!
Person X keeps tagging my page and saying mean things!
Person X keeps spamming my business page!
WHAT CAN I DO?
Figuring out your legal rights as a photographer against clients, photographers and vendors can be tricky if not guided properly.
Here is a basic rundown of defamation, harassment and the accompanying actions you can take to regain peace in your life and business.
The communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly state or implied to be factual, that results in a negative or disparaging image is called defamation. State laws govern the types of defamation.
Mere less-than-favorable rules by a client about your work may not necessarily constitute defamation. The fact that a client is unhappy with your work and publishes their opinion does not immediately constitute defamation, no matter how awful the circumstances around the situation may be. The totality of the circumstances will be evaluated in order to determine whether defamation truly exists.
Behaviors that constitute harassment are of an offensive nature with intention to disturb, upset, or annoy the individual subject to the harassment. Acts include bullying, stalking, cyberstalking, etc.
One of the most common forms of harassment on photographers by other photographers and clients is that of cyberstalking. Cyberstalking occurs when one uses email, social media or other electronic means to harass a person/group of persons. Sometimes this can be called “trolling”. A classic example of cyberstalking is the use of “tagging” and “linking” to another’s professional business page with the intention for the public to view unfavorable statements about that business. Again, like defamation, mere tagging and discussing a failed business experience may not constitute harassment. The continued “tagging”, “linking” and “posting” may rise to the level of harassment.
What do I do if I’m being defamed/harassed?
First, approach the individual in a professional manner to request that all actions be stopped. While you want to have written documentation of the interaction in case the situation results in legal action, remember to keep professionalism on the web.
If they refuse to continue to do so there are multiple options in the form of Cease and Desists. Cease & Desists are letters requesting a particular act be ceased or stopped.
- Cease and Desist Order – given by a judge to order a person to stop a certain act
- Cease and Desist letter – given by the person being defamed/harrassed to the defamer/harasser demanding the act to be ceased
What do I say to the defamer/harasser?
Ask them to stop. Cite the behaviors, the dates and methods the behavior occurred, and that you are requesting for them to stop. Include that if behaviors are not stopped or removed off the internet by X date, legal action by the laws of your jurisdiction will be taken.