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Photographer
Adam Csatary
Posts: 7
Burlington, Ontario, Canada


I have a picture of a celebrity under the age of 17 (not doing anything wrong) posing for me at a party. I would like to use this image in a book I will be publishing soon. The image was taken in LA.

Can I use this image in my book or does age limitations prevent me from publishing this photo? I do not have a signed release. ??

Any help would be great and I know laws vary depending where the photo was taken. I am from Toronto Canada.

Thanks for your input.

Adam
Jul 09 13 07:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


If it was taken in the US, and the subject is a celebrity, then I don't believe there is anything special you need to do - just run the photo.  It's not pornography, then the fact that the subject is a celebrity means that if they were photographed in public, you don't need any special paperwork; it's assumed that his or her parents knew they would get photographed when they signed off to let them make their movie/record/whatever.  Where you are from doesn't matter - it only matters where the photo was taken.

But I'd ask your publisher if they're cool with it.  Or if you're self-publishing, ask a lawyer.
Jul 09 13 08:20 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Cherrystone
Posts: 35,982
Columbus, Ohio, US


Zack Zoll wrote:
If it was taken in the US, and the subject is a celebrity, then I don't believe there is anything special you need to do - just run the photo.  It's not pornography, then the fact that the subject is a celebrity means that if they were photographed in public, you don't need any special paperwork; it's assumed that his or her parents knew they would get photographed when they signed off to let them make their movie/record/whatever.  Where you are from doesn't matter - it only matters where the photo was taken.

But I'd ask your publisher if they're cool with it.  Or if you're self-publishing, ask a lawyer.

There is so much wrong with this, I don't know where to start.

Being a celebrity means they're in public 100% of the time????
The OP mentioned a party, unless it was a street fair or in a public park party, it very well could've been in a private dwelling or building.
In public means just that. Someplace were privacy is not to be expected.

It's assumed his/her parents who, what??? hmm

The OP is also publishing in a book, which one could assume that is a for profit venture. The laws about being on a street, newsworthy, etc etc. aren't necessarily gonna apply there.

Where I'm from & where I'm doing my regular course of business in can also matter.

OP if a few of the right folks stumble in this thread, I'm sure they can give you a little more guidance as how to proceed.

But even then......check with an attorney that is skilled in these particular matters.

Jul 09 13 08:33 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
I M N Photography
Posts: 2,282
New York, New York, US


I don't think Canadian lawyers frequent the forums as much as you'd like, therefore you are prone to get lots of opinions, and personal anecdotes.

Try this website:

http://ambientlight.ca/laws/the-laws/

As usual, do lots of research, and ask an attorney if things are still vague.

The "Civil Law" section should be of particular interest to you.
Jul 09 13 08:40 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Adam Csatary
Posts: 7
Burlington, Ontario, Canada


I appreciate everyone's reply. Just to clarify a little the " private party" was held at the wilshire hotel so a rented room/ rooftop. I was not paid for this event but invited as a guest. There were many celebs there but I'm not sure if there is any law in California that says anything about publishing a photo of a person under the age of 17 I believe this celeb was 14 at the time. Also from my understanding is that celebs have less rights than regular people as they are more "public" I just don't know if being under 17 matters or not. The book will be out in about a month and I can elaborate more then but right now I need to keep things a little private for the time being hope you guys understand and thank you so much for any insight.

Also non related to celebs can u publish a picture of a person under 17 in public ? ( not doing anything wrong)

And I will eventually see a lawyer but they tend to charge a huge amount for anything you ask them.  After all I did seek legal advice when Oprah infringed on my copyrights when publishing an image of Justin bieber on an interview she did with him. Let's just say I won harpo lost. smile

Thanks everyone!!
Jul 09 13 09:57 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Teamworks Studio
Posts: 57
Bellevue, Washington, US


Zack Zoll wrote:
If it was taken in the US, and the subject is a celebrity, then I don't believe there is anything special you need to do - just run the photo.  It's not pornography, then the fact that the subject is a celebrity means that if they were photographed in public, you don't need any special paperwork; it's assumed that his or her parents knew they would get photographed when they signed off to let them make their movie/record/whatever.  Where you are from doesn't matter - it only matters where the photo was taken.

But I'd ask your publisher if they're cool with it.  Or if you're self-publishing, ask a lawyer.

Wow?! I don't even where to begin on this?

Whew, I better not. I'm sure someone has more legal common sense will chime in.

Jul 09 13 10:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Adam Csatary
Posts: 7
Burlington, Ontario, Canada


MnPhoto wrote:
I don't think Canadian lawyers frequent the forums as much as you'd like, therefore you are prone to get lots of opinions, and personal anecdotes.

Try this website:

http://ambientlight.ca/laws/the-laws/

As usual, do lots of research, and ask an attorney if things are still vague.

The "Civil Law" section should be of particular interest to you.

Thank you!

Jul 09 13 10:10 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Awesome Headshots
Posts: 2,363
San Ramon, California, US


MnPhoto wrote:
I don't think Canadian lawyers frequent the forums as much as you'd like, therefore you are prone to get lots of opinions, and personal anecdotes.

Try this website:

http://ambientlight.ca/laws/the-laws/

As usual, do lots of research, and ask an attorney if things are still vague.

The "Civil Law" section should be of particular interest to you.

+ 1.

This is a very touchy subject, especially with her being a celeb and you (assuming) making money off her picture.

Please, please, please. Consult an attorney maybe 2 to confirm your answer. A photographer putting out a book with a celeb's image without the publicists approval is like tossing a cat into Michael Vick's backyard.

Jul 09 13 10:14 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Brian Scanlon
Posts: 786
Encino, California, US


MnPhoto wrote:
I don't think Canadian lawyers frequent the forums as much as you'd like, therefore you are prone to get lots of opinions, and personal anecdotes.

Try this website:

http://ambientlight.ca/laws/the-laws/

As usual, do lots of research, and ask an attorney if things are still vague.

The "Civil Law" section should be of particular interest to you.

I don't think Canadian law applies.  The OP said the photo was taken in Los Angeles.  The laws of privacy/publicity that apply are where the photo was taken.  In this case I don't think being a minor matters.  It would only apply if a release if you had him sign one.
If the use is on the cover of the book it is commercial and requires a release.  Inside the book is edidorial (assuming that it just illustrates the text) and doesn't require a release.

Jul 09 13 10:24 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
GPS Studio Services
Posts: 34,461
San Francisco, California, US


Brian Scanlon wrote:
I don't think Canadian law applies.  The OP said the photo was taken in Los Angeles.  The laws of privacy/publicity that apply are where the photo was taken.  In this case I don't think being a minor matters.  It would only apply if a release if you had him sign one.
If the use is on the cover of the book it is commercial and requires a release.  Inside the book is edidorial (assuming that it just illustrates the text) and doesn't require a release.

Actually, the law that applies are the laws where the image is published, except that it is totally possible that you could have liability in both places.  Put another way, if a photographer shoots and image in Canada and then gives it to a publisher in LA to put in a book, the publisher is going to be subject to California law.

I don't want to touch this one because we don't have enough facts. As an example, what kind of book is it going to be?  What is the purpose of the photo?  Who is publishing it and where is the publisher located?  These are all things you should be talking about with an attorney.

Jul 09 13 10:36 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


Cherrystone wrote:

There is so much wrong with this, I don't know where to start.

Being a celebrity means they're in public 100% of the time????
The OP mentioned a party, unless it was a street fair or in a public park party, it very well could've been in a private dwelling or building.
In public means just that. Someplace were privacy is not to be expected.

It's assumed his/her parents who, what??? hmm

The OP is also publishing in a book, which one could assume that is a for profit venture. The laws about being on a street, newsworthy, etc etc. aren't necessarily gonna apply there.

Where I'm from & where I'm doing my regular course of business in can also matter.

OP if a few of the right folks stumble in this thread, I'm sure they can give you a little more guidance as how to proceed.

But even then......check with an attorney that is skilled in these particular matters.

There is a very large difference between what is legal to use in book form(in the US anyway), and what is legal to use as an individual image.  Since a book is not the same as licensing(you can't put a book on a billboard, for example), and people are buying a collection of work, rather than a single image, it tends to fall under the same rules as an image in a gallery, and NOT images for commercial use.

So the question isn't one of 'can I use this image' ... if you were allowed to take the image in the first place, then you're allowed to use it.  You still need proper paperwork to use the image commercially though, so if you were to run an advertisement for the book for instance, you'd need to use a different picture to advertise it.

But that's up to the publisher, which is why I suggested that you ask them.  While you technically don't need releases for books, many publishers require them anyway as a CYA measure.

As far as the parent thing ... in the US, any legal wranglings of a minor are generally done by their legal guardians.  I could be wrong, but I would assume that 'agreeing to be a public figure and assuming the risks of that' would be something that would also fall the the legal guardians.  Or at least whoever has the kid's power of attorney.

Jul 10 13 04:49 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,447
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Adam Csatary wrote:
I have a picture of a celebrity under the age of 17 (not doing anything wrong) posing for me at a party. I would like to use this image in a book I will be publishing soon. The image was taken in LA.

Can I use this image in my book or does age limitations prevent me from publishing this photo? I do not have a signed release. ??

Any help would be great and I know laws vary depending where the photo was taken. I am from Toronto Canada.

Thanks for your input.

Adam

I am not a lawyer, but I suspect you are missing the important issues. 

There are a number of approvals you may need in order to publish an image.  Generally, you need permission from the copyright holder, and possibly from any identifiable people in the image.

If you took the photo, you are likely the copyright holder, so that's not a worry (unless under Canadian law, you were working, and your client owns the copyright).

The real question is whether or not you need permission from the celebrity (or a parent/guardian if they are a minor).   My understanding is that the context in which the photo was taken, and the context of the usage are critical.

If the subject had an expectation of privacy, then you may need permission.

If the context of the usage falls into the "commercial use" category, then you likely need permission.   "commercial use" is an informal term that means "one of the usages where state law requires a release" - generally where the image is used to promote goods and/or services.  Keep in mind that this does not line up with the common sense definition of "commercial use"


If the book is about the people you have bumped into while working as a photographer, you might be OK.   If the book is about the famous people you have photographed, then you might need permission as the context of the usage implies that the celebrity uses/endorses your services.

If you are going to use the image in an advertising campaign, or on the dust cover, then a release may be needed.


The above is a gross simplification, as there are many other issues that may come into play.  If the celebrity was standing in front of a copyrighted piece of art, then you may have an issue with the art.  Some states have specific laws which alter the rules where celebrities are involved.  You may need to worry about the laws for the state where the photo was taken, the state where the publisher is located, and any states where the book is sold.

The easiest answer is to get permission from the celebrity. 

The correct answer is to talk to an attorney who can give you advice based on the specifics of your situation.   I am not an attorney, don't rely on anything I say.

Jul 10 13 05:12 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
GPS Studio Services
Posts: 34,461
San Francisco, California, US


This is just a rhetorical question.  How many times have people here submitted work to a publisher and had them not require a release?  Most publishers don't want to deal with all of these "what if's."  Maybe they need it, maybe they don't.  In most cases, they are going to want to protect themselves.   They will want a release.

I would just ask the publisher.  If they are fine without a release, then you are most probably safe (or at least safe in their eyes).  If they require a release, then this whole discussion is moot.
Jul 10 13 06:49 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
I M N Photography
Posts: 2,282
New York, New York, US


Publish your book.
Include an afterword thanking the celebrities and other subjects within.
Donate the proceeds to charity.

I don't know why people, especially celebrities, tend to avoid looking like they are being greedy.
Jul 10 13 08:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Broughton
Posts: 2,164
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Michael Fryd wrote:
If you took the photo, you are likely the copyright holder, so that's not a worry (unless under Canadian law, you were working, and your client owns the copyright).

http://petapixel.com/2012/11/07/canadia … ir-photos/

Jul 10 13 09:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,447
Miami Beach, Florida, US


MnPhoto wrote:
Publish your book.
Include an afterword thanking the celebrities and other subjects within.
Donate the proceeds to charity.

I don't know why people, especially celebrities, tend to avoid looking like they are being greedy.

I don't think this would be a successful strategy.   All the celebrity needs to do is to sue you for more than the expected profits, and promise to donate the proceeds from the suit to charity.  Charity wins, you lose, and the celebrity comes out looking good.

Celebrities generally work very hard to maintain a specific public image.  If they feel a photo does not support that public image, they won't want the photo published.

Jul 10 13 09:10 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
GPS Studio Services
Posts: 34,461
San Francisco, California, US


Michael Fryd wrote:
If you took the photo, you are likely the copyright holder, so that's not a worry (unless under Canadian law, you were working, and your client owns the copyright).

That only applies to photos taken after the effective date of the statute change.  It isn't retroactive and the statute is new.  So Michael raises the issue because, depending on when the photo was taken, if he had been hired for the project he was working on, someone else could actually own the copyright.

Jul 10 13 10:10 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


Cherrystone wrote:
The OP is also publishing in a book, which one could assume that is a for profit venture. The laws about being on a street, newsworthy, etc etc. aren't necessarily gonna apply there.
Zack Zoll wrote:
There is a very large difference between what is legal to use in book form(in the US anyway), and what is legal to use as an individual image.  Since a book is not the same as licensing(you can't put a book on a billboard, for example), and people are buying a collection of work, rather than a single image, it tends to fall under the same rules as an image in a gallery, and NOT images for commercial use.

So the question isn't one of 'can I use this image' ... if you were allowed to take the image in the first place, then you're allowed to use it.  You still need proper paperwork to use the image commercially though, so if you were to run an advertisement for the book for instance, you'd need to use a different picture to advertise it.

But that's up to the publisher, which is why I suggested that you ask them.  While you technically don't need releases for books, many publishers require them anyway as a CYA measure.
GPS Studio Services wrote:
This is just a rhetorical question.  How many times have people here submitted work to a publisher and had them not require a release?  Most publishers don't want to deal with all of these "what if's."  Maybe they need it, maybe they don't.  In most cases, they are going to want to protect themselves.   They will want a release.

I would just ask the publisher.  If they are fine without a release, then you are most probably safe (or at least safe in their eyes).  If they require a release, then this whole discussion is moot.

I've only been published in a collection (Long Lonely Swims, Peperoni Press, 2012), and that was with a German publisher.  My current book is self-published, so it's all on me there.  I can tell you that Peperoni didn't require releases, even though most of the photographers in the book were American, and it was intended primarily for the American market.  I was doing street photography, so I didn't even have any releases to offer; but others had actual posed portraits, and no releases were required.  But again, it was a German publisher.

in 2010, Peperoni published Michael Wolf's Tokyo Compression which was a book of Tokyo passengers jammed up against the glass of subway cars.  It was co-published with a Tokyo publisher.  Again, no releases.

According to the head of Peperoni (I heard him give a talk on this), the lack of model releases wasn't a legal issue, because there people were all in a public place, and the images weren't defamatory.  There was some rustling of a lawsuit, but it died right down because hey - public place.  He went on to say that in the future, he might not be willing to publish another similar book without model releases, as he doesn't want to deal with any potential lawsuits ... but that he didn't technically need them to be in the clear.

Neither of my books have model releases.  Well I have a few, but not for most of the people in the books.  But I do have model releases for my next book, since it's much more defamatory.  Some of the people are presented in a poor light, and for that you really should have your paperwork in order.  I even have a line in my release addressing the use of text, as I don't want someone to come after me because they don't like their caption.

But otherwise, it's always the publisher's call, since they're usually the ones to feel the heat first.

Jul 10 13 11:41 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
I M N Photography
Posts: 2,282
New York, New York, US


Michael Fryd wrote:
I don't think this would be a successful strategy.   All the celebrity needs to do is to sue you for more than the expected profits, and promise to donate the proceeds from the suit to charity.  Charity wins, you lose, and the celebrity comes out looking good.

Celebrities generally work very hard to maintain a specific public image.  If they feel a photo does not support that public image, they won't want the photo published.

Nothing is airtight unless you have the proper licenses and releases. I was being a bit cheeky, but you have to admit that offering some of the proceeds to charity when you ask for permission, is much more appealing than forcing things via loopholes in the law.

Worst case scenario: you don't include the images from those that refuse, but if the book is coming out in a few weeks, you may have started asking these questions a bit late.

Jul 10 13 12:50 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
GPS Studio Services
Posts: 34,461
San Francisco, California, US


Cherrystone wrote:
The OP is also publishing in a book, which one could assume that is a for profit venture. The laws about being on a street, newsworthy, etc etc. aren't necessarily gonna apply there.
Zack Zoll wrote:
There is a very large difference between what is legal to use in book form(in the US anyway), and what is legal to use as an individual image.  Since a book is not the same as licensing(you can't put a book on a billboard, for example), and people are buying a collection of work, rather than a single image, it tends to fall under the same rules as an image in a gallery, and NOT images for commercial use.

So the question isn't one of 'can I use this image' ... if you were allowed to take the image in the first place, then you're allowed to use it.  You still need proper paperwork to use the image commercially though, so if you were to run an advertisement for the book for instance, you'd need to use a different picture to advertise it.

But that's up to the publisher, which is why I suggested that you ask them.  While you technically don't need releases for books, many publishers require them anyway as a CYA measure.
GPS Studio Services wrote:
This is just a rhetorical question.  How many times have people here submitted work to a publisher and had them not require a release?  Most publishers don't want to deal with all of these "what if's."  Maybe they need it, maybe they don't.  In most cases, they are going to want to protect themselves.   They will want a release.

I would just ask the publisher.  If they are fine without a release, then you are most probably safe (or at least safe in their eyes).  If they require a release, then this whole discussion is moot.
Zack Zoll wrote:
I've only been published in a collection (Long Lonely Swims, Peperoni Press, 2012), and that was with a German publisher.  My current book is self-published, so it's all on me there.  I can tell you that Peperoni didn't require releases, even though most of the photographers in the book were American, and it was intended primarily for the American market.  I was doing street photography, so I didn't even have any releases to offer; but others had actual posed portraits, and no releases were required.  But again, it was a German publisher.

in 2010, Peperoni published Michael Wolf's Tokyo Compression which was a book of Tokyo passengers jammed up against the glass of subway cars.  It was co-published with a Tokyo publisher.  Again, no releases.

According to the head of Peperoni (I heard him give a talk on this), the lack of model releases wasn't a legal issue, because there people were all in a public place, and the images weren't defamatory.  There was some rustling of a lawsuit, but it died right down because hey - public place.  He went on to say that in the future, he might not be willing to publish another similar book without model releases, as he doesn't want to deal with any potential lawsuits ... but that he didn't technically need them to be in the clear.

Neither of my books have model releases.  Well I have a few, but not for most of the people in the books.  But I do have model releases for my next book, since it's much more defamatory.  Some of the people are presented in a poor light, and for that you really should have your paperwork in order.  I even have a line in my release addressing the use of text, as I don't want someone to come after me because they don't like their caption.

But otherwise, it's always the publisher's call, since they're usually the ones to feel the heat first.

I wouldn't feel very safe having a German publisher telling you that it is OK to put images in his book without a release.  Since he is publishing the book in Germany, he will be subject to German law.  I have no idea what that is.   You, on the other hand, are located in the US.  In right to publicity and right to privacy cases here, the photographer is often named in a suit even though he isn't the actual publisher.  Courts have found, in this country, that making the images available to the publisher, is a form of publishing in itself.  People always cite Dan Keller's book, saying you are not, but there have been too many cases for me to believe him.

My point is that I don't think that anyone here can answer your question, particularly since you are self-publishing.  It is going to depend on the specific facts of your situation, which we really don't know in detail.  If inclusion of the image is important to you, ask an attorney, not us.  He/she is qualified to give you proper legal advice.   I am glad to hear that you are now getting releases when you are able.

Jul 10 13 01:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
I M N Photography
Posts: 2,282
New York, New York, US


Zack Zoll wrote:
...

Neither of my books have model releases.  Well I have a few, but not for most of the people in the books.  But I do have model releases for my next book, since it's much more defamatory.  Some of the people are presented in a poor light, and for that you really should have your paperwork in order.  I even have a line in my release addressing the use of text, as I don't want someone to come after me because they don't like their caption.

But otherwise, it's always the publisher's call, since they're usually the ones to feel the heat first.

It would really be helpful if you gave a better description of how you intend to portray the celebrities in your book.

Not everything needs a release. It is virtually impossible to ask for a release from every person you shoot outdoors. As long as you keep things from touching defamation/slander territory, there is a lot of room for commercializing editorial content.

The key part is keeping things within an editorial context.

Documenting the presence of a celebrity that happens to be a minor at an event, is very different from publishing a book about the celebrity. Unauthorized biographies (with photographs) got sued often for defamation reasons, due to inaccuracies.

It is easy to create editorial content. You just have to know how to do it, while keeping the focus on a theme or general topic, and away from the celebrity.

Jul 10 13 02:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


GPS Studio Services wrote:
I wouldn't feel very safe having a German publisher telling you that it is OK to put images in his book without a release.  Since he is publishing the book in Germany, he will be subject to German law.  I have no idea what that is.   You, on the other hand, are located in the US.  In right to publicity and right to privacy cases here, the photographer is often named in a suit even though he isn't the actual publisher.  Courts have found, in this country, that making the images available to the publisher, is a form of publishing in itself.  People always cite Dan Keller's book, saying you are not, but there have been too many cases for me to believe him.

My point is that I don't think that anyone here can answer your question, particularly since you are self-publishing.  It is going to depend on the specific facts of your situation, which we really don't know in detail.  If inclusion of the image is important to you, ask an attorney, not us.  He/she is qualified to give you proper legal advice.   I am glad to hear that you are now getting releases when you are able.

Yeah, don't use Peperoni as an indicator of what is legal in the US.  But since the OP is Canadian and may not be using an American publisher, it really doesn't matter who we talk about.

I just tell that story as an example of why some publishers require releases, and others do not.  Don't take that as any sort of legal advice.

Jul 10 13 08:00 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Darren Brade
Posts: 2,746
London, England, United Kingdom


it would be interesting to know the likely hood of the celeb suing.

all this fuss on what could be an innocent snapshot which is likely to be part of a celebs daily life.
Jul 11 13 02:10 am  Link  Quote 
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