Author’s Face Ends up in Hundreds of Ads Without Consent
This is the story of Shubnum Khan, whose face appeared on advertisements around the globe without her consent.
This is the story of Shubnum Khan, whose face appeared on advertisements around the globe without her consent.(Image Courtesy: Twitter/@ShubnumKhan)

Author’s Face Ends up in Hundreds of Ads Without Consent

Imagine seeing your face in a McDonald’s ad in China, then in an ad promoting immigration in Canada, and then some more ads till you figure out that the list simply keeps growing.

Imagine this when you have not actively signed up for it and never consented to your face being used in advertisements all over the globe. Hundreds of times.

This is exactly what happened to author, artist, and freelance writer, Shubnum Khan. Khan took to Twitter to tell her tale.

“Now I didn’t mind that I was promoting immigration in Canada but I couldn’t understand why my face was in a paper all the way on that side of the world,” Khan wrote in a tweet.

Signing Away Her Portraits

Khan titled her story “How I Ended Up with my Face On a McDonald's Advert in China - A Cautionary Tale” and explained how, as a student, she had unknowingly given a photographer the rights to her images.

When Khan contacted the photographer, she was told that her portraits were, in fact, signed away as stock images and she might she them pop up in places.

“It feels like I sell everything”

Curious, Khan did a reverse Google search for her images and boy, was she shocked.

“It feels like I sell everything. If I’m not welcoming immigrants to Canada, I’m selling carpets in NYC, leading treks in Cambodia, or looking for love in France,” Khan wrote in her tweet.

From promoting dental sedation in Virginia Beach to being all “about getting rid of pesky eye bags” to sporting photoshopped testimonials, her face had experienced it all.

And then there were the books and magazine covers...

“I can also take on new identities”

When Khan asked her photographer about the multiple identities that her face was being used for, she was informed that she had signed away rights to “distortion of character including false names.”

This meant that not only could Khan’s photographs be used with different names, she could also be accorded different nationalities, which is exactly what happened.

“Never Paid for Any of the Ads”

The number of advertisements, none of which she was paid for, seemed unending to Khan.

“So beside the fact that all of us were never paid for ANY of these advertisements, there’s also the misleading and downright dishonesty of promoting these products,” Khan wrote in one of her tweets.

When she contacted the photographer again saying that she didn’t know that she had signed up for ALL of this, he said that “it was all legal and explained beforehand.”

“Could’ve Gone Badly”

Khan’s images was finally taken down from the photographer’s site after she complained that as an author she could be recognised. This, however, could not guarantee that her pictures won’t be used commercially anymore, as some companies had already purchased the rights to them.

Khan, however, decided to look at the brighter side and said that the whole scenario “could have gone badly” but didn’t.

As a final comment, she cautioned people to be careful about what they sign.

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