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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Watts legal?

Question: You said Facebook doesn’t own our photos. One of my friends stole a private photo from my Facebook album and reposted it on his own wall where everyone can see it. How can I get him to take it down?
— Jessica N.
Davis, CA

A: You own the copyright to any photo you created yourself. Because Facebook participates in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice-and-takedown process, you can tell Facebook to delete or disable access to any photograph in which you own a copyright. The easiest way to file a takedown request with Facebook is to follow the instructions at facebook.com/help/contact/?id=208282075858952.

You could follow up with an email to Facebook’s registered DMCA agent at ip@fb.com just to be safe. You’ll have to identify the URL of the photo (right-click on the photo and view the image’s location) and be willing to give Facebook your name, address and some other personal information.

That shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, Facebook probably already has all that information.

Question: I’m living at home while going to college, and my dad is making [me] be pre-med. I hate being pre-med and want to switch to something easy like political science. But my dad says he’ll kick me out of the house if I change my major. Can he do that?
— Kyle S.
Davis, CA

A: In most cases, yes, unless you’re paying rent or the equivalent of rent. If you want to keep living in your childhood bedroom like Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers, then start giving your parents some money.

In California, there are three main types of residential tenancies. You can be a tenant, a lodger or a gratuitous guest. Tenants and lodgers both pay rent. A tenant is what most students in Davis are; you signed a lease, you pay rent on a regular basis and you’ve been there for a while. To evict a regular tenant, a landlord has to give notice to the tenant (usually a 30-day or 60-day warning, but sometimes as few as five days), then file a lawsuit in unlawful detainer court. After the lawsuit, the landlord has to give the tenant a few days to leave on his own before calling the sheriff to kick him out. This process takes a while — usually more than a month or two, especially if you have a written yearlong lease like most of the leases in Davis.

A lodger has fewer protections. Are you paying rent on a regular basis but don’t have a lease agreement? Are you living in the same house as your landlord? Are you the only renter? If you answered yes thrice, you’re a lodger, and your possession of your room is tenuous. The notice period is shorter, the eviction lawsuit can be filed quicker and it’s easier to win a case against a lodger.

It sounds like you’re neither of those. You’re probably a gratuitous guest, and a gratuitous guest is almost always screwed. You’re a mere guest if you don’t pay rent on a regular basis (or at all), you live in the same house as your landlord, your landlord has always retained control over your bedroom (i.e. he could enter at any time if he felt like it), your landlord doesn’t rent a room to anyone else and you never signed a lease agreement. Legally, your dad is in control, and he doesn’t need a court order to kick you out. You could come home after a late night of “studying” and discover that your dad changed the locks while you were gone, leaving you homeless without any recourse.

There are two solutions here. First, you could stay pre-med and suck up to your dad. Alternatively, you could install a lock on your bedroom door and start paying rent on a monthly basis to try to transform yourself into a lodger instead of a gratuitous guest. Even if your dad won’t sign a lease agreement, he might take money if you offered it — just be sure to pay every month on the same date each time.

You can get more general landlord/tenant information at caltenantlaw.com or by browing one of the legal self-help books at Avid Reader in downtown Davis.

Daniel is a Sacramento attorney, former Davis City Council candidate and graduate of UC Davis School of Law. He’ll answer questions sent to him at governorwatts@gmail.com or tweeted to @governorwatts.


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