Could I get sued for this?

30 replies
Was thinking about making a website based off of a certain celebrity and once it grows a bit bigger, have like a "members" section and stuff...(membership fees)

Could that cause any problems? Get sued because I'm using their fame to make money on a membership site?

Thx!

Edit: Kind of like a 'fan' group I guess..
#sued
  • Profile picture of the author King Shiloh
    Banned
    I have just weighed your conscience and I discovered that you're not comfortable with this move.

    I'm not an attorney but I think you could be sued for it.

    My answer is Y-E-S!

    P.S.: YES means You're Expecting to be Sued.
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  • Profile picture of the author oldwarrioruser1
    I just had the idea that.. if something happened and it actually got "big".. They could be like.. "Hey, I deserve a share of that money"
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    • Profile picture of the author King Shiloh
      Banned
      Originally Posted by korypearman View Post

      I just had the idea that.. if something happened and it actually got "big".. They could be like.. "Hey, I deserve a share of that money"
      So, I think I read your mind perfectly well.

      They may not look for just a share of the money. They may try to take the site down, take it away from you or claim ownership of it.

      Please forget about this whole ambitious trip.

      Just my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author R Hagel
    You're asking a legal question, so it's best to talk to an attorney.

    Even if you wanted to take legal advice from folks who aren't lawyers (which isn't smart), no one can really give you an answer anyway because you haven't provided enough info.

    So... chit chat with an attorney about your plans.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    In situations like this I think that if you need to ask - then you should probably not do it.
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    nothing to see here.

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  • Profile picture of the author KarlWarren
    If you're using celebrity pictures and they haven't signed a model release, and you haven't paid a license fee for them - it might not be them who sues you.

    It might be the agency who bought the rights from the photographer who took them.

    Alternatively, the celebrity might own rights to their likeness - in which case you'd need their permission to use their photos.

    If you haven't got the money to get legal counsel BEFORE you embark upon this venture - I sincerely doubt you'll have the money to fight a claim after the fact. So, my guess is...

    You'd be better off doing something else.

    Kindest regards,
    Karl.
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    • Profile picture of the author joshril
      Originally Posted by KarlWarren View Post

      If you're using celebrity pictures and they haven't signed a model release, and you haven't paid a license fee for them - it might not be them who sues you.

      It might be the agency who bought the rights from the photographer who took them.

      Alternatively, the celebrity might own rights to their likeness - in which case you'd need their permission to use their photos.

      If you haven't got the money to get legal counsel BEFORE you embark upon this venture - I sincerely doubt you'll have the money to fight a claim after the fact. So, my guess is...

      You'd be better off doing something else.

      Kindest regards,
      Karl.
      There are a lot of answers on this thread from people that don't know what they're talking about, and they're just providing opinions on what they think might be the right answer.

      The quoted reply above is correct... You need to talk to an attorney about things like this, and if you can't afford one, you need to look at doing something else.

      Thanks,


      Joshua
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  • Profile picture of the author DogScout
    If images and content are used for news purposes and attributed, you do have a fair use case; used in a fan site? no.
    You'd have to make it 'news about Paris!' type of site. They can still sue. In America, anyone can sue anyone for anything. It boils down to paying for the defense and having a good enough lawyer to win it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dwight Anthony
    You probably need to sit down with an attorney and it may ending up being that you put alot of disclaimers on the site stating that its no way endorsed or affiliated with the celebrity and basically a fan club site. But do talk to a lawyer i would say. Find one that can do a 1/2 hour minimum billing as opposed to 1 hour minimum. You could cover a lot in a 1/2 hour.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    You can lose the domain if you use their name in the domain, unless the site is used for a NON-COMMERCIAL fan site. That would be fair use of their name. The paid membership would not be fair use.
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  • Profile picture of the author Owen Smith
    Only if you use official pictures that are not yours without permission or without leaving copyright.

    Otherwise there are pleanty of fan sites making money from celebrities.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Owen Smith View Post

      Only if you use official pictures that are not yours without permission or without leaving copyright.

      Otherwise there are pleanty of fan sites making money from celebrities.
      Maybe you ought to Google celebrity cybersquatting before answering
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      • Profile picture of the author Owen Smith
        Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

        Maybe you ought to Google celebrity cybersquatting before answering
        That is why I said *without persmission*
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        • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Owen Smith View Post

          That is why I said *without persmission*
          It goes beyond just photos. A fan site normally uses the name of the celebrity in the url and that domain can be taken away in a UDRP.

          Of course you could just go ahead and ask the celeb themselves or their agents if its ok to use their photos and name to make some money. I can pretty much guess where that's going to go.
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          • Profile picture of the author Owen Smith
            Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

            It goes beyond just photos. A fan site normally uses the name of the celebrity in the url and that domain can be taken away in a UDRP.

            Of course you could just go ahead and ask the celeb themselves or their agents if its ok to use their photos and name to make some money. I can pretty much guess where that's going to go.
            It I suppose is dependant because celebrities love to be marketed. I would recommend he goes down the legal route to find out, but I do not think this is a no go area if it is done correctly.

            Regards
            Owen
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel44
    I believe that having a fan site is usually fine, as long as you make it clear that it is a fan site and not the 'official' website.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMChick
    Two things you must learn to run a successful business:

    1. Don't build your business expectations on free advice, whether it's from non-lawyers on an internet forum or not;

    and,

    2. Never try to save a dollar on legal fees by the do-it-yourself approach. This rarely works and is always more expensive to correct once your business is in peril than hiring it properly and paying the initial legal fees.
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  • Profile picture of the author LilBlackDress
    And when in doubt - do nothing or err on the side of caution.
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    • Profile picture of the author RyanLeonard
      Originally Posted by LilBlackDress View Post

      And when in doubt - do nothing or err on the side of caution.
      That sounds so boring. What if you lived life like that? Where would skydiving be??

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  • Profile picture of the author thomasB
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author mrs spencer
      if your conscience is against doing it, then DONT!
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      • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
        People can get sued for just about anything these days. So, yes. You could get sued.
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        "May I have ten thousand marbles, please?"

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      • Profile picture of the author JustinDupre
        Originally Posted by mrs spencer View Post

        if your conscience is against doing it, then DONT!
        That's how i think of it..if something is telling me is not right and i should stay away.. i tend to move on and try something better.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randy Daugherty
    You can be sued if that certain person find out that you're using him/her, nevertheless if you'll not using for bad purpose I think its fine. Goodluck:0
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  • Profile picture of the author RefundHost
    Remember that any NEWS STORIES or PHOTOS used
    will be owned by another party. In such cases, you
    can actually be charged criminally ( worst case ).

    If you really think peeps want to see your stuff
    just do it ... make it FREE ACCESS in exchange
    for email sign-up ....

    and use that email list to sell related products.
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  • Profile picture of the author RyanLeonard
    Go for it. Being sued isn't the end of the world. Besides, I'm sure if you state that you do not represent the party involved- you'd probably be OK legally.

    It'll be fun too.

    And if you are sued, we'll all learn a valuable lesson from you. Common' man, be a team player!
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  • Profile picture of the author goosexxx
    I'm sure the celeb will be too hopped up on pills to notice your site... go for it!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Originally Posted by korypearman View Post

    Was thinking about making a website based off of a certain celebrity and once it grows a bit bigger, have like a "members" section and stuff...(membership fees)

    Could that cause any problems? Get sued because I'm using their fame to make money on a membership site?

    Thx!

    Edit: Kind of like a 'fan' group I guess..
    Use Youtube videos and espcially www.Allposters.com.

    Not only as an affiliate of Allposters do you have rights to use the pics for FREE, you also get paid to use them and you can make pizza money with a few sales. They have tons and tons of posters.


    My Allposters "join" affiliate link...It's free for you...But is a two-tier program so I benefit too.

    Non-affiliate link:
    www.Allposters.com
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  • Profile picture of the author nakmuay7
    if you were to write the site and make it clear it is an unofficial site and make sure that you state all content is merely the opinion of the author.

    that should cover it
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    • Profile picture of the author BitterXwife
      Anyone can sue you, at any time, for anything.

      We all run the risk of being sued.

      A lot of legit businesses who were in the right when they were sued have been put out of business because the other side had bigger pockets. It takes a lot of money to defend yourself, even if you are in the right, and that's what does a lot of people in.

      A lot of web sites are out there, devoted to specific celebrities, or even groups of celebrities. Look at Perez Hilton. He has built an empire talking about the celebs.

      Don't steal images from someone else.

      There are legit places to purchase professional images of celebrities. Getty Images comes to mind. Search Google and you'll find some options.
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  • Profile picture of the author DuaneZ
    Here is a site celebritycybersquatting.com that talks about what you are asking about. Here is a small excerpt from the site "Celebrity cyber-squatting occurs when a third party registers a famous or celebrity name, or typographical variation of that name with the bad faith intent to profit. These infringing web sites can cause harm to the who is unable to control the content associated with their personal or famous name."

    But you should read the entire article on this website to gain an appreciation of the possible consequences of using a celebrity name in a URL. The choice is yours but I can not see the benefit but I can see a future headache that you will have no control over the consequences!
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