Taking pictures, shooting video and My Rights

My Rights

   In everyday life it is not unusual for me to appear on photos and videos without being aware of their existence. Intentionally or not, the authors of such materials are entering into my private  life, depriving me from the freedom to decide where, with whom and how to take photographs. The Bulgarian legislation  on this matter is significantly frugal; in fact, there is almost no case law. This provoked the creation of the article the main purpose of which is to prepare me to defend my absolute rights of privacy adequately and freely in similar future situations.

Constitutional prohibition:

Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, as part of the principle of privacy, proclaims the following prohibition: “No one shall be followed, photographed, filmed, recorded or subjected to any other similar activity without his knowledge or despite his express disapproval, except when such actions are permitted by law.”

Based on this text of the Constitution, I can make a claim for damages against the person who posted my photo without my knowledge or consent. Pecuniary damages will be imposed when as a result of the publication I get fired from work or it prevented me from sealing a major deal. If the consequences of publication affect my personality and dignity,  my physical or emotional state, I have the opportunity to claim redress for non-pecuniary damages. In both cases, the damages have to be proven!

I am protected when the photo was taken without my knowledge or despite of my disagreement. Knowing that I am a subject of such actions but not explicitly opposing them (I see my photo but do not respond)  presupposes that I implicitly agree with the author’s self-will, and this would be of significance in an eventual lawsuit.

When is my consent  a precondition for taking a photo with me as the main subject?

Since the beginning of 2011, the Law of Copyright and its Related Rights formally requires the consent of the subject of the photo. Without such an agreement copyrights will not be given to its author. Consent may be given orally when the purpose of the creator is only to photograph without an intention to publish the photo. If the photo is going to be published, the photographer needs my written permission! Professionals often ask for the consent of their “objects” with declarations – contracts and various web-sites  tend to warn us in their “terms of use” that by publishing my own photo in their web-site I am giving my consent that it could be seen by other users.

Note: Consent is required if on the image/video one or more persons could recognize themselves (by face, clothing or tattoos).

In what circumstances is anyone allowed to photograph me without my permission?

The law does not require my consent when:

  • The photo is taken in the course of my activity as a public person.
  • Image of my face is just a detail of a work/production/masterpiece, showing an assembly/meeting, a parade or a landscape.
  • I have received payment for the photo / video in advance.

Photographing  for editorial purposes is allowed – this is the use of images for society events with social, political and social interest. Sports or cultural events can also be filmed if the photographer has the required permission to shoot. This permission is granted in advance by the event organizer or owner of the building and it is called “accreditation”.

Celebrities can be photographed without their consent only for editorial purposes!

It is prohibited to publish:

  • Paparazzi photos: These are photos of celebrities who were shot with special equipment in order to reveal moments of their private life (at home, on the beach, etc.).
  • Photos that could endanger national security.

In all cases in which I find  an image online or in the media and have met some of the above requirements I have the right to file a claim against the author!

(*) This paper aims to outline some basic Your rights and does not claim to be a legal adviser. If you have difficulty with the exercise of these fundamental rights or the case is more complicated – we advise you to consult a legal expert. (*)



Hristo Georgiev Milchev
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§ Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria;

§ Law on Special Investigative Techniques;

§ Criminal Procedure Code;

§ Law on Radio and Television;

§ Law on Copyright and Related Rights;

§ Law on  Public Order During Sports Events;

§ Law on Obligations and Contracts.