Stevensville, MI asked in Copyright for Michigan

Q: I've written a book and I would like to use a photograph of a replica jersey as the cover? Can I use it w/o permission?

I would like to use other pictures, but the ones I'd need to use are over 40 years old and it has been increasingly difficult to find the people who took them to even ask for permission. Is there any way that I can photograph the replica NFL jersey without getting into trouble? If not, how would you suggest I get permission for other photographs if they're that old?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Tania Maria Williams
Tania Maria Williams
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • West Palm Beach, FL

A: You have a couple issues here because the copyright in the photograph likely still exists and any use without permission would constitute infringement. It can be difficult to figure out who to get permission from if there is no identifying information for the photo. However, you may also have a potential trademark issue with the team who the jersey belongs to.

Barbara Berschler agrees with this answer

Barbara Berschler
Barbara Berschler
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD

A: You might inquire with the team or NFL to request permission to use a picture that features the team's jersey for the limited purpose you have in mind. They may allow for such use of their mark if it is not conflicting with their normal uses, like selling jerseys. But, as pointed out by Ms. Williams, at a minimum, you need to consider copyright and trademark issues as you proceed.

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