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Articles by Professionals

Listed below are articles written by Doctors, Therapists, Nutritionists, and others who have worked in the field related to Eating Disorders Awareness and Treatment. If you have an article you'd like to submit, please contact us to make arrangements to place it on the site with proper credit and referring information.


PRIVACY, PHOTOS, COPYRIGHT LAW AND TREATMENT

by: Amy Medina, Founder of Something Fishy

During this electronic age of the internet, it is important to address the issue of privacy. It has come to our attention through several of our members that personal photos were taken of them while they were being treated inpatient for their Eating Disorder, and the photographers, other patients themselves, have gone ahead to publish these same photos on the internet.

First, lets address the issue of copyright law. It gets a little sticky when you start to discuss which photographers needs to have a photo release signed, and which don't. It is the general concensus in the photography world that any individual who has their photo taken must sign a photo release for those same photos to be used commercially (for business purposes or for sale). When so many people now have personal websites where they can self-publish photos, the issue of privacy within a medical treatment environment becomes an important one to further visit.

While personal protection of privacy rights is important, owners of treatment facilities become responsible to protect the privacy and confidentiality rights of their patients. It is important that during the intake process patients are made aware that, if they are allowed to take photos at all, they are only allowed to take photos for personal use, and that these photos cannot later be published in any format (digital/electronic or print media). It can be quite upsetting to an individual who was treated for an Eating Disorder to later discover a picture of themselves posted on the internet, showing them in the protective setting of a treatment facility.

There are often journalistic opportunities that arrise, where the media wish to visit a treatment facility to cover a story. This type of coverage is important when educating the public on Eating Disorders and their treatment. Most media outlets, and more importantly, treatment facilities, already draw the line that it is important to protect the privacy of those who wish to remain anonymous, or have their confidentiality protected. Most treatment facilities will restrict media and photographer access to certain areas, keeping other areas of the facility completely off limits. Most will make sure that the subject(s) of photos sign releases and realize their identity will become public, through television, newspapers, books or websites. This type of publicity should NOT be true of pictures taken by other patients, who do not have signed photo releases, who have open-ended access to each other in a very private setting.

Patients themselves should make it clear to each other, that if they give verbal permission to a fellow sufferer to take their picture while in treatment, that the picture is only to be used for personal enjoyment and memories, and that it is NOT to be published on the internet or elsewhere in the future. Treatment facilities should emphatically back this policy up.

If you are a patient yourself, you should respect the privacy of others also in treatment, and should follow the steadfast rule that what others' choose to share with you is to remain within the confines of treatment... it is not gossip to share on the internet, or anywhere.

Though we all realize that there is a slew of paperwork and forms that are filled out accompanying each patient's admittance to treatment, I suggest that treatment facilities and recovery centers explore the possiblity of having a simple form stating their policy on photos for each patient to read and sign (if they don't already have such a form). Patients need to feel comfortable knowing that their privacy will be protected during their residential or outpatient care, and that they won't face the possibility of having their picture show up on a personal website months or years later.

AND, treatment centers themselves need to feel safe knowing that pictures taken by their clients are not being used inappropriately around the web, or in print media.

At the very least, I only hope to make everyone think about how we can all move forward through the electronic age respecting each other's privacy, and most importantly, ensure the comfort and safe treatment of each person battling an Eating Disorder.

Feel free to write to me regarding this matter.

September 30th, 2002

©2002 Amy Medina, Something Fishy Music & Publishing

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