Heads Up: You Have Probably Broken This Law

Sharing Snapchat images without consent is illegal - who knew?

Turns out, you could face a prison sentence if you screen shot and share Snapchat images without permission. Erm… yikes!

Billions of photos and videos are shared on the social media platform each day and if you share just one without the consent of the person who owns (ie. took) the photo, you could be prosecuted. Anyone else having palpitations? We definitely didn’t know this before!

The Government’s culture minister, Ed Vaizey confirmed in a statement that keeping a copy of an image shared on Snapchat and passing it on to anyone else is illegal. You could be sued by the original sender for sharing their image because it breaches copyright law.

“Under UK copyright law, it would be unlawful for a Snapchat user to copy an image and make it available to the public without the consent of the image owner,” explained Vaizey, “The image owner would be able to sue anyone who does this for copyright infringement.”

Vaizey’s comments were made in response to queries about what measures the Government was taking to make sure Snapchat images were not being shared without the consent of the image owner.

Because Snapchat images are automatically deleted after a set number of seconds (determined by the sender) people tend to share pictures of a more, ahem, private nature, so images they don’t want to hang around or be passed on. And there was us thinking they just disappear in to cyberspace… 

Well nope, the screenshot function on smartphones makes it easy to keep a copy of any images received. And Snapchat’s official line is that we should all refrain from sending anything we wouldnt want to be saved and reshared.

Things get even more serious, legally, if the images being saved and passed on by recipients are of a sexual nature – this is when the prison part becomes most relevant:

“The disclosure of private sexual photographs or films without the consent of an individual who appears in them and with intent to cause that individual distress, is an offence under Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015,” said Vaizey, “Those convicted could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.”

So, let’s all vow never to screenshot Snapchat images again… ever.

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