How far does fair use extend?
March 13, 2007 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Copyright question about using sports photos in a blog...

I have a small sports related blog in which I write about current sporting events. I would like to use up-to-date photos to illustrate my posts, but was wondering about the copyright implication of using photos from places like AFP or Reuters.

If I resize the photos to, say, 150 px, give the photo a © caption and use them for illustrative purposes, am I covered by fair use?

What about those headshots that are released for publicity and put on team websites? Can I use them?

What about logos of teams and sporting events?

Most of the blogs I read are crammed full of photos and I often wonder about whether they've a) paid a royalty, b) received permission, or c) just used them and hoped they don't get sued.

Up until now, I've always shied away from using images in my blog, just because I don't own any of the rights. For what it's worth, my blog is hosted in the UK and most of the sport I write about takes place in Europe.
posted by afx237vi to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Using AP photos to accompany your blog is almost certainly not fair use.

Headshots released for publicity are probably fair game, but if you're in doubt you should contact the league concerned and ask -- have a look around for a media contact email address on their websites.

Logos of teams and sporting events are, again, probably okay, as long as you make it clear you're not an official blog, etc.

I'd say most blogs just use the photos and hope they don't get sued. And in all honesty, they probably won't get sued, but they might get an angry lawyer letter demanding the pictures are removed.

IANAL, etc.
posted by robcorr at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2007

c) just used them and hoped they don't get sued.

To answer this part of the question: that is almost certainly the case for all but the highest-profile blogs. There are too many blogs, too little revenue, and (oddly enough) too few lawyers for the interested corporations to effect a thorough crackdown on this sort of thing.

That's not to say they can't effect a nasty crackdown on an unlucky example, of course. Caveat bloggor.
posted by cortex at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2007

In the UK, you don't have a fair use defense anyhow. You have fair dealing, which is very, very restrictive compared to American fair use (which itself is nothing outstanding). The summary in that Wikipedia article matches my (Canadian) understanding of it, so that will give you an idea of how little that helps.

But look at it on the face of it: AP takes those pictures because their business is selling them to media outlets, like you, that want to illustrate their articles. If it was possible to use the pictures for free, why would the big papers pay?

(It might also suggest that they have a strong interest in preventing the kind of infrigement you're considering.)
posted by mendel at 5:10 PM on March 13, 2007

If the photos are sports related and you're finding them via a major media outlet like the AP then you can almost certainly find the photographer over at They're a very professional, but pretty easy going bunch who would definitely be able to guide you in how to go about using thier work. I encourage you to contact them - its much better to know for sure than to guess and be wrong about the usage!
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:57 PM on March 13, 2007

Wikipedia seems to think that logos are OK. Which is not proof of anything (and note Wikipedia's servers are located in the US), but presumably the Wikimedia Foundation's lawyers have vetted that sort of use.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:29 AM on March 14, 2007

If you're not making a profit from traffic driven to your site by using those pictures, I'd consider just using what you feel illustrates your story best.

I can see them getting bent out of shape if a for-profit publication uses them, but letting fan sites get away with it.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:49 PM on March 15, 2007

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