How do I clear celebrity photos easily and effortlessly?
December 4, 2007 7:27 AM   Subscribe

"We need to use that picture of that pregnant singer from the cover of Mary Claire in the next show," says my boss. "What's my budget," I ask? There's a pause. My budget is nothing. "Can't you just get permission? As a promotion?" I make a note. "When do we need it by?" "Yesterday. As long as you get me the release by Friday, we're good." Yes, this is my job. Anyone have tips on successfully licensing photos of celebrities... for as little money and hassle as possible?

I am in an interesting situation in which I am employed doing 'visual research' on a TV show that has little money and is months behind schedule. This is one of those 'opportunity' jobs, in that if I succeed I am a hero, if I fail I am relatively expendable.

I need to go after that nude picture of Xtina, for example, but I can't afford any expenditure, any delays and need that release on file.

If you know anything that can help me - either specific to this situation or for my job in general, please let me know. Feel free to send me a message as well.
posted by Elle Vator to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not to rain on your parade, but I'd be really surprised if you could get a release for using that picture without spending some serious money. Unless you know a guy who knows a guy who can help you out.
posted by Phoenix42 at 7:33 AM on December 4, 2007

Response by poster: Is that your answer because you possess specific knowledge or because this is the common sense, but-not-actually-grounded-in-fact line that everyone tows? If you are using images such as this in the context of marketing and promotions, there's gotta be an easy way to clear it, a one phone call kinda thing.

And I'm looking for the guy who knows the guy, if you have any tips. :)
posted by Elle Vator at 7:57 AM on December 4, 2007

Unfortunately for you, photos do not operate under any sort of compulsory licensing system the way music does. The copyright owner - the photographer, or the magazine if this is under work for hire - gets to set the terms or not.

I think the closest to a "one number" you're going to get in the case you describe above would be CA's publicist. S/he has an interest in keeping her profile as high as possible so even if they don't have any ability to assign those rights to you, they have an interest in making it happen.

Of course if I were tasked with making this happen I'd make that call and say I'd been tasked with a picture of -A- pregnant celeb, not that that particular one. Bidding war mentality, you know.
posted by phearlez at 8:04 AM on December 4, 2007

Doesn't a lot of this depend on your intended use of the photograph?
posted by mmascolino at 8:04 AM on December 4, 2007

Contact the photographer's representation- there's an excellent chance he retains copyright on additional photos from that shoot- and if not, they could put you in contact with the right people.

Ruven Afanador
Represented by Caroline Noseworthy
212-925-4222 ext 145
posted by headspace at 8:10 AM on December 4, 2007

From here:

NOTE: The full "Sexy Mama" article is not being released prior to the magazine hitting the newsstands, but JPGs of the January 2008 Marie Claire cover and an inside image are available upon request. Images may be used, provided the Marie Claire logo is published as it appears and photos are not altered in any way. Marie Claire reserves the right to legally pursue users who alter these images.

Would a JPG be enough?
posted by piratebowling at 8:40 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Would your use of the photo fall under "fair use"?
posted by thebigpoop at 9:23 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

You can find some helpful information here and you can probably contact them for further info, since they seem to do something similar to what you're looking for.
MAGAZINE COVERS AND BOOK COVERS involve two clearances: 1) the magazine and 2) the photographer who took the photo....
posted by FreezBoy at 9:51 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: people here are on the right track.

for a photo such as this, i would start with the magazine and find out if they have the copyright or if the photographer was able to keep it. if the former, you'll have to jump thru their permission hoops in order to obtain permission to reuse. they may or may not charge you for reuse.

if the photographer has rights, you'll have to contact him or her and ask their permission to use it. he or she may or may not charge you for reuse.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:37 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can convince Marie Claire that this will help publicize their issue, they'll let you use. I'd start by asking. They already may have this in their plan.
posted by alms at 11:24 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

if you contact them in writing, it may be helpful to refer to them as Marie Claire, not Mary Claire
posted by barrakuda at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2007

Response by poster: For the record, going through the magazine is the best bet for a cover as they own the rights for all aspects of the cover.

Going to the talent's people or to the photographer's agent will only complicate things for a magazine cover. These people will try to get more money out of you, as it their right and duty, whereas the magazine can and will release it at no cost under the right circumstances.

Thanks everyone for your answers - I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love this site!
posted by Elle Vator at 9:10 AM on December 14, 2007

Response by poster: PS: for a great breakdown of all the rules of this sort of thing, please click on the link Freezboy provided above.
posted by Elle Vator at 9:11 AM on December 14, 2007

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