Do I need permission to use images of famous people

Profile picture of the author tigerwar by tigerwar Posted: 09/25/2011
Hello fellow warriors,

is anyone ofay with the legal side of using images of famous people E.g. Justin Timberlake, Angelina Jolie etc...
The web is literally plastered with pictures and the majority combined with the intention to make some cash.

Do images on the google search engine have restrictions?

I'd like to start a project which manipulates images but where is the limit. Naturally I'm not talking of any hard core or offending stuff.

Any thoughts would be appreciated

Thanks
TW
#famous #images #people #permission

  • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
    Will Edwards
    All pictures are subject to normal copyright restriction including those in Google's image search. If you use an image without the appropriate rights, you could end up in legal trouble.

    Will
  • Profile picture of the author jonasgr
    jonasgr
    As Will said they are subject to copyright restriction, or well most of them. You should use royalty free pictures, to be safe.
  • Profile picture of the author tigerwar
    tigerwar
    Well those are my thoughts too, but I'll be selling these pictures, so there's a direct link between the income and the famous persons which could possibly breach the law. I really don't know , just trying to cover myself before starting

    Originally Posted by laurent0rz View Post

    I highly doubt anything will happen to you for using those kind of pictures. Millions of people all around the world use them.
  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Alexa Smith
    Originally Posted by tigerwar View Post

    Do images on the google search engine have restrictions?
    Yes, of course they do. Unless specified to the contrary, they're subject to the laws of copyright, just like any other content you don't own yourself.

    Many celebrities and some media photographers (who can own the copyright) have PR agencies which employ people whose full-time occupation it is to identify and take action over online instances of breaches of photographic copyrights and usage of celebrity images for financial gain. You can have your site taken down, and be sued both for any profit you've made from it, and for punitive damages.

    Originally Posted by laurent0rz View Post

    I highly doubt anything will happen to you for using those kind of pictures.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I strongly urge anyone reading this thread to ignore the opinion above. Unless of course Laurent0rz wants to pay your future legal bills ... :rolleyes:

    The fact that "other people are doing it" doesn't make it sensible. (Nor does it make it honest, if that interests you.)
  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Istvan Horvath
    Originally Posted by laurent0rz View Post

    I highly doubt anything will happen to you for using those kind of pictures. Millions of people all around the world use them.
    That's the dumbest post of the day...

    Why are you giving ignorant advice that can, potentially, ruin his business if gets sued by the copyright holder?
  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    CDarklock
    1. Celebrity images are treated as trademarks worldwide.

    2. All human beings in the United States are endowed with "natural trademark rights" in their own likeness and identity.

    3. Don't ask for legal advice on forums. The above facts should help you answer your own question. If those facts are insufficient, consult an attorney.
  • Profile picture of the author Winlin
    Winlin
    Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

    All pictures are subject to normal copyright restriction including those in Google's image search. If you use an image without the appropriate rights, you could end up in legal trouble.

    Will

    As Will points out "All pictures are subject to normal copyright restriction". It's a fallacy to believe that once someone becomes "Famous" (a subjective concept) that all images of them become a part of the public domain.
    -Proceed with caution...

    -winlin
  • Profile picture of the author rrm
    rrm
    Originally Posted by laurent0rz View Post

    I highly doubt anything will happen to you for using those kind of pictures. Millions of people all around the world use them.
    That here's some shaky ground. It may be true that "millions of people all around the world use them", but that's not the point. You want to do what is right and legal, not what you can get away with. Too much of the IM world (and the rest of the world for that matter) is full of people who want to take the wrong kind of short cuts and circumvent the legal system as much as they can get away with. I believe tigerwar has the right intentions.

    As I understand it, there are two main rights associated with images of famous people - right of publicity and right of privacy. They are opposites of each other. The right of publicity recognizes that a person can use his/her own image for economic benefit, i.e., make money. Anybody else using that image for economic benefit without permission of the person whose image is exploited is very possibly violating U.S. law.

    If you don't have permission to use the image, can you be sued for using the image for commercial gain? Yes. WILL you be sued? Probably not. No matter. I am not a fan of playing Russian Roulette with the law. Do the right thing. Get permission if in doubt.

    Ron
  • Profile picture of the author tigerwar
    tigerwar
    Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

    1. Celebrity images are treated as trademarks worldwide.

    2. All human beings in the United States are endowed with "natural trademark rights" in their own likeness and identity.

    3. Don't ask for legal advice on forums. The above facts should help you answer your own question. If those facts are insufficient, consult an attorney.

    Thanks,

    It's not a case of asking for direct advice, more a question of "what have you experience in this area"
  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Istvan Horvath
    Originally Posted by tigerwar View Post

    more a question of "what have you experience in this area"
    Experience? - Why do you assume we all use images that we don't have the right to use and that we all commit copyright infringement?

    Normal people don't steal copyrighted material from others: be it text, image, software etc.

    A photographer owns the copyright of the images you find "on the internet" (search engines). Just because you can find it that doesn't change the fact that is copyright protected.
  • Profile picture of the author abubakar89
    abubakar89
    do not just save from google search. Go to actual website and then save it for your own use.
    For example if you reach a photographers website in this situation those images will have copyrights and you are not allowed to use them.

    A little research can save you from big trouble in the end

    I hope this helps
  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Istvan Horvath
    Originally Posted by abumadni View Post

    do not just save from google search. Go to actual website and then save it for your own use.
    Another smart....

    What is the difference between stealing from G. or from the original site?
  • Profile picture of the author FredJones
    FredJones
    What most others have said is what I believe too.

    If you cannot do without the pics, how about trying to get written permissions from the celebrities? I think its unlikely that you shall get one but if it is a show-stopper then you might as well try because you probably cannot lose by making a written request.
  • Profile picture of the author tigerwar
    tigerwar
    Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

    Experience? - Why do you assume we all use images that we don't have the right to use and that we all commit copyright infringement?

    Normal people don't steal copyrighted material from others: be it text, image, software etc.

    A photographer owns the copyright of the images you find "on the internet" (search engines). Just because you can find it that doesn't change the fact that is copyright protected.

    No body is implying anything here Istavan,

    experience can also be knowlegde learnt from others!
  • Profile picture of the author sadiecopywriter
    sadiecopywriter
    I used to be active in the visual arts world and this question came up all the time. Artists always want to use pictures of celebrities in their paintings or sculptures.

    A friend of mine did actually get sued for this and she explained the rule this way to me; (After she lost.)

    If it's a person who makes a living off their image, like a movie star, TV star or music star than they can and do have the right to sue you. (That's where she made her mistake.) The same is true is it's a TV/movie character.

    However if it's someone who is just famous and is not in the entertainment industry, like a politician, then you can use their image all you want.

    They make their money on their deeds, not their image, so unless you're saying slanderous things about them, using their image doesn't actually hurt their ability to make a living.

    That's why it's different from the entertainment industry. People pay a lot of money to use the images of entertainment celebrities. This is how they earn their living. It's called 'licensing'.

    While many won't sue you, they all have a right too, and it only takes one sue happy celebrity to ruin your life.
  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Alexa Smith
    Originally Posted by sadiecopywriter View Post

    If it's a person who makes a living off their image, like a movie star, TV star or music star than they can and do have the right to sue you. (That's where she made her mistake.) The same is true is it's a TV/movie character.
    Again, that's regarding the "personality/trademark" rule ... there's still the copyright to think about, separately/additionally.

    Originally Posted by sadiecopywriter View Post

    However if it's someone who is just famous and is not in the entertainment industry, like a politician, then you can use their image all you want.
    But not if you don't own the copyright to the photo.

    The photographer/agency who owns it can still sue you for breach of copyright, whether the person depicted is famous or not.

    It's like any other content you don't own, in that regard.

    I'm no lawyer, Sadie, but I do think your friend has misinformed you, here. If she thinks it's ok just to "take" and use a photo of someone, and the fact that the person isn't famous will protect her from a lawsuit over breach of copyright, I'd advise her to have a little re-think about that proposition, I really would. The "You can use their image all you want" part doesn't sound right to me, at all. It can't be, really, if you think about it, can it?
  • Profile picture of the author tigerwar
    tigerwar
    Thanks everyone....I don't don't believe I ever changed a business concept so quickly! Thank goodness I have a plan B

    cheers
    TW
  • Profile picture of the author sadiecopywriter
    sadiecopywriter

    I'm no lawyer, Sadie, but I do think your friend has misinformed you, here. If she thinks it's ok just to "take" and use a photo of someone, and the fact that the person isn't famous will protect her from a lawsuit over breach of copyright, I'd advise her to have a little re-think about that proposition, I really would. The "You can use their image all you want" part doesn't sound right to me, at all. It can't be, really, if you think about it, can it?
    Could be true, I'm no lawyer. (And my friend did loose so clearly she didn't understand... )

    I do know from my own personal experiences that you do need a model release if you're using any non-famous people who aren't stock photos in your work. You can't just go around taking pictures of anybody and using them however you want.

    Back when I did art, I always got a release. But I've never used any famous people.
  • Profile picture of the author Mike McLeod
    Mike McLeod
    Guess you should got permission from the photographer, the likeness of the famous person is their property.

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