Rihanna Wins Lawsuit for Using Her Picture Without Permission

  • By:Ruben Jacobs

Rihanna has won a law suit against Topshop over a T-shirt using her photo. The T-Shirt featured a photo of her taken in Northern Ireland during the filming of her “We Found Love” music video in 2011. High Court Judge Justice Birss ruled that fans would be deceived into buying the T-shirt because of the “false belief” that RiRi had agreed to let Topshop use her image.This is an interesting case as we wrote earlier a post about the question whether you can sell photos with images from people:

“A person is depicted in my photo. Can I sell it?” The answer depends on the jurisdiction where you and the person in the photo is based, but if you follow following guidelines, you should be safe:

In case recognizable individual(s) are depicted in a photo, you need a statement of each of these depicted persons (or of the holders of the parental authority in case of minors) giving their permission for the sale of their images.
You need to keep these statements, so you can show them in case a buyer or a person depicted in the photo requests it. It is your duty to prove that you obtained the necessary clearances.

This rule doesn’t apply to photos taken in public places where random members of the public are identifiable only hypothetically (e.g. a group of tourists next to a monument). However, you shouldn’t single out one of the tourists for a portrait without his/her permission.
A second exception to the rule are public persons acting in their public activities. It is allowed to take a photo of a pop star when (s)he is greeting the public. However, this exception doesn’t apply when you sneak into their house to take some sneaky paparazzi shots.”

(blogpost June 10, 2013)

We now can specify our advise. Where you can still sell pictures of public persons acting in their public activities, you should make sure that you don’t give the false impression that they endorse your products.

Good luck with your photos!

The PM team

Posted in: Infringement, Legal, Photography