Birdsboro, PA asked in Business Law and Copyright for Pennsylvania

Q: Are you able to legally sell a picture of a celebrity, that you took. Then print the photo you took on clothing to sell?

I.E. If you pay a photographer to take a picture of a professional athlete, can you then sell that picture on clothing? Since you now technically own the image.

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2 Lawyer Answers
John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Milford, CT

A: There are two elements here – rights to the image under copyright law and rights to the use of the image related to rights to publicity/likeness/privacy related to the famous person (and maybe others). You are claiming rights to the image under copyright. You need to clear the rights related to the use for publicity/likeness/privacy (printing on clothing and selling) – which are based on specific state statutes and common law. Try to obtain a license from the famous person for the use you want – reach out to their agent.

This answer includes generalizations and there are many caveats. This answer does not form an attorney client relationship.

Evelyn Suero
Evelyn Suero
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Miami, FL

A: You cannot sell a photograph of someone without permission to use that person's likeness. This involves the athlete's rights of publicity, etc. and also might imply their unauthorized endorsement of your product or service. Consult with an intellectual property attorney.

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