Copyright has never been an easy issue. In fact, it is an unescapable one. It has sparked many arguments in the creative community. Some of them you may have heard about already, while others remain private. Nevertheless, they have created major discourse over copyright. Here are some reasons you should get your images from celebrity picture sites and avoid copyright violations.
- The Issue of Appropriation Art. You should not blindly use photos. Take for instance the case of renowned artist Jeff Koons. Koons used the photo of couple holding a line of puppies to create a set of statues. The photo was originally taken by photographer Art Rogers for greeting cards and similar products. Koons made a significant product through the statues. Rogers found out about it and sued Koons for copyright.
To address the issue, you need to get your images from celebrity picture sites that allow you to create derivative work.
- The Famous Obama Campaign. Are you familiar with the photo used in President Obama’s campaign? The photo was originally taken by Associated Press freelancer Mannie Garcia, but was edited by famous street artist Shephard Fairey. AP demanded compensation by which Fairey responded with the defense for fair use, stating that his work did not reduce the value of the original image. The fact is Fairey took the photo without permission.
To go around the issue, only take your images from celebrity picture sites. Stock imagery does not require permission to be used for editorial purposes. You just need to make sure that everyone knows the source.
- Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley. A photo of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley was taken by the White House photographer and are placed in public domain. However, the estates of Nixon and Presley may claim the rights of their image and likeness. The commercial use of their images may be subject to these claims. If you want to use these photos commercially, you should first contact the appropriate representative or consult with their legal counsel.
If you are only meaning to use the images for editorial purposes, you should get them from celebrity picture sites, such as Shutterstock.
The bottom line is that you should be careful with the use of celebrity images. If you do not want to deal with right of publicity and privacy issues in addition to copyright, you should only get them from celebrity picture sites. If you intend to use the images on commercial purposes, make sure you get a permission from the right people. If the celebrity is deceased, get it from a representative. Keep in mind that celebrity stock images are like other photos. You have to have the right license and permission for legal usage.