University to pay ex-student Sh700,000 for using her photo without consent

The student alleged that her image was taken by an unauthorized servant, agent, and or employee of the university without her knowledge. [iStockphoto]

A court has awarded a former Machakos University student Sh700,000 for use of her image in an advertisement without consent.

Justice Margaret Waringa sitting at the High Court in Machakos declared that the university violated her fundamental right to privacy and human dignity when it used Catherine Njeri's image in a commercial advertisement.

Njeri, in a petition she filed on October 26, 2021, claimed the motive was for the university to get more students to partake in the said courses offered at the university at Sh7,000

"On April 10, 2021, the petitioner (Njeri) discovered that her photograph had been used by the respondent (university) in advertising and marketing courses it offered." Read part of the petition.

Njeri further sought an explanation from the institution, as to why it was using her image without her consent.

She alleged that her image was taken by an unauthorized servant, agent, and or employee of the university without her knowledge.

She supposed that the University violated her right to privacy and not to be held in slavery or servitude when it published her photo for the school's commercial gain with no financial advantage gained by her.

Catherine added that her intellectual property rights were also violated from the same publication.

Machakos University, in its reply, admitted to having used the image. However, the institution said that since it is partly public-funded, it does not engage in commercial or profit-oriented activities.

It further alleged that the photos on the website portrayed Njeri in a positive manner because she is a graduate of the University.

Njeri had sought compensation of Sh10 million for violation of image rights, her right to privacy, human dignity, and breach of data rights.

However, the court on August 3, 2022 determined that there was no evidence of proof of injury, damage, or loss on her.

Therefore, Justice Waringa ordered the university to pay trifling damages of Sh700,000 to her.

"A declaration is hereby issued that the petitioner's intellectual property rights, right of publicity, and personal rights were infringed when the respondent decided to publish her image in advertising and marketing the computer packages courses offered for financial gain without seeking the consent from the petitioner's consent," ruled the judge.