TUM sued for unauthorised use of photos of Moi University graduates

A man walks past  the main gate of Technical University of Mombasa (Tum). Three Moi University graduates have sued TUM over the publication of their photos on the back of its graduation booklet without their consent.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) has been sued over the publication of photos of three graduates of Moi University on the back of its graduation booklet without their consent.

Ms Nawal Ali, Mr Abad Elkindiy and Ms Fatima Athman have accused TUM of publishing the photos without their knowledge, consent or authority, contrary to the law.

They say that on or about July 14, 2022, TUM maliciously published and distributed their picture on its graduation booklet with a caption ‘congratulations class of 2021’ that was widely circulated within Mombasa county to advertise its graduation.

In their petition to the High Court in Mombasa, Ms Nawal, Mr Elkindiy and Ms Athman say they are graduates of Moi University and were awarded their degrees in 2019.

The petitioners are seeking a declaration that TUM violated their fundamental right to privacy and human dignity by publishing their image for commercial purposes without their consent.

They also seek an order requiring TUM to compensate them for any damages or losses caused by the publication of their image without their express consent and its exploitation by TUM for financial gain. 

“The said image of the petitioners includes the three petitioners wearing garlands made out of jasmine, roses and magnolia flowers which are associated with the Swahili Arab culture,” the petition states in part.

According to the petitioners, the graduation booklet was widely circulated as TUM is known for having students from all over the country and internationally and that their image in the publication was automatically utilised for commercial gain.

“The petitioners further averred that in the said reckless and malicious publication, the respondent portrayed the petitioners as having attended its institution, a fact it knew to be false, mischievous, ill intending, misleading and malicious and have no basis,” the petition states.

They argue that the caption in the publications constitute a gross misstatement of facts because they have never been students at TUM as alluded to by the use of their photo.

The petitioners claim that they were not compensated by TUM for the use of their image and that the publication was calculated to injure, disparage and lower the esteem with which the right thinking members of the society regard and hold of them.

Ms Ali, Mr Elkindiy and Ms Athman say that the respondent has violated their right to privacy including their right to have them protected from intrusion.

“The petitioner’s rights have already been trampled on by the respondent’s degrading act of publishing their graduation photo or image without their knowledge or consent,” the petition further states.

They also argue that TUM’s action of publishing their photo on the back of its graduation booklet constitutes intrusion into their individualism and infringes on their right to human dignity.

The petitioners also want a declaration that their intellectual property rights, right of publicity and personality rights were infringed when

TUM decided to publish their image in advertising and marketing the graduation ceremony and courses offered for financial gain without seeking consent from them.

They also want a permanent injunction issued restraining the respondent from publishing or using their image and likeness in its advertisement or promotion in any way without their consent.