Want the fame, not the lawsuit
November 8, 2010 6:09 AM   Subscribe

Can I post a photo of a celebrity visiting my business?

I fairly famous celebrity visited my business while I was not there and took a photo with our manager. Can I post that photo online as long as I have the manager permission? My concern is the legality of the celebrity. As long as I imply no endorsement is it okay? If I understand things they have no legal expecation to privacy by being a public figure which is why Paparazzi can do what they want (even zoom lensing into their yards from nearby hills). Is that correct?
posted by IzzeYum to Work & Money (8 answers total)
I have to think in 2010 that a celebrity posing for a picture (when sober anyway) is assuming it will end up online.
posted by COD at 6:32 AM on November 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yeah, just put it up. If for some reason you ever get an email or a phone call from their representation asking you to take it down, take it down. But celebrity's assumption is that the photo is already framed in your business, posted on Facebook, and silkscreened on a cake by now.
posted by hermitosis at 7:04 AM on November 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Regardless of legality, the nice thing to do is e-mail Celebrity (they do have a public-facing e-mail address, right? Otherwise they're not a celebrity) and ask for permission. Chances are they will ignore you, answer it's ok, or even provide you with more material you can use.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:12 AM on November 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you can't get them through email, lots of people are on Twitter these days, and respond directly to fans.
posted by lhall at 8:01 AM on November 8, 2010

Whoever took the photo holds the reproduction/publication rights for the photo, regardless of who appears in the photo. Just post it. My guess is that as long as it's an ordinary, non-embarrassing, non-incriminating photo and the celeb wasn't mooning the camera/wearing a KKK outfit/snorting coke in it, he or she won't care.
posted by orange swan at 8:19 AM on November 8, 2010

Near where I live there's an Indian restaurant whose major claim is that Sachin Tendulkar once ate there. Of course it's OK.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2010

It would be courteous, but utterly unnecessary to ask. One has no rights to one's physical appearance (in the US, at least), i.e.- it can neither be trademarked nor does copyright apply, so it is merely an ethical question, not a legal one, as others have touched on here. In your shoes, I would dispense with asking and post it.
posted by dalea at 11:59 AM on November 8, 2010

Whoever took the photo holds the reproduction/publication rights for the photo, regardless of who appears in the photo.

While that's true, the legality of using a photo with people is more complex. The real question here is, will you/do you plan to monetarily benefit from the photo? Will it be featured on just Flickr as another random photo, or will it be prominently placed on your business's website? Will it be used in advertisements? Etc. If the photo can be in any way considered "commercial" then you'd better get release forms from the people in it.

Of course, release can be implied. Consider restaurants/businesses that post photos of celebrities on the wall (Hard Rock, dry cleaners in a CYE episode, etc). A celebrity walking into such a place obviously would see the photos, and if they agree to have their photo taken the implied consent is that it will be part of the wall collection. Although these photos are somewhat an endorsement by the celebrity and commercial, the celebrity had no reasonable expectation of privacy when they posed for the photo.

Now suppose your standard business with no celebrity photos on the wall. Celebrity walks in, and as a personal favor to the manager has their picture taken. There's no implied consent here for the photo to be used as anything other than a personal momento of the manager. If you want to hang it on the wall or use it on the business's website then you need to get permission from the celebrity.

TL;DR: get a release if the photo is connected to your business. It's at the very least the polite thing to do.
posted by sbutler at 3:21 PM on November 8, 2010

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