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I detail cars and when done I take pics to post in my ads to show my work. I don't show license plates or house address.

Corona, CA |

I wash the cars in the driveway of peoples homes. Afterwards I take pictures of the car to show my work. Then, I use my pictures to make on-line ads. Is that illegal? Someone is claiming I have breached their privacy and is demanding that I remove the photo of her truck. She is VERY HAPPY with my work but is now threatening to leave a negative review of my business because I am using a picture of her truck. What are my rights???

Attorney Answers 4

  1. In the end this is a matter of Cal. law and I am not a Cal lawyer. But on general principles, you can probably show a picture of the car with no identifying features. But using her name without permission can get you sued. And someone can write a negative review for any reason or no reason. So I would back off in this customer’s case.

    Licensed in Maryland with offices in Maryland and Oregon. Information here is general, does not create a lawyer-client relationship, and is not a substitute for consulting with an experienced attorney on the specifics of your situation.

  2. I would take the picture down. If you have a customer who is unhappy because she feels that you are violating her privacy, she is within her rights to write a negative review (which she could do regardless.) A negative review online is a serious thing in terms of your search engine optimization.

    For a free consultation related to medical malpractice, personal injury, workers' compensation, social security disability or nursing home abuse, please contact Lowenthal & Abrams, PC at 1-800-876-5299. I am licensed in Pennsylvania, but members of my firm are licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. This post is not legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in this post. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance. I am licensed to practice law in the state of Pennsylvania.

  3. While I know of no legal reason why you cannot publish a photograph of a former customer's car in an advertisement for your business, as my colleagues note you most assuredly do not want the negative review. So remove that photograph pronto, apologize to the former customer, and let her know you meant no insult or harm. And tell her you will wash her car for free next time. The investment in this kind of customer relations will come back to you many fold when, by word of mouth, she tells others how considerate you are.

    The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

  4. Legally, your rights are to post the photograph of the car to showcase your work, provided you don't falsely imply an endorsement, either from the car company or the customer.

    You are, however concerned with the wrong person's rights. Your customer has the right to post negative reviews and cost you business. You have your priorities backwards, and should worry about your customer more and your legal rights less if you want to succeed in business.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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