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  1. #1
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    Hi,

    My friend has done some paintings of famous people which he hope to sell prints and originals of online.

    Does anyone know, or point me to a resource, to find out about the copyright element. I'm sure there is no problem - otherwise magazines and newspapers would never be able to print images without the person in the pictures permission.
    But it makes sense to make sure.

    They are original works in oil. You can find a sample here,
    http://www.actorcafe.com/test.htm
    the first is just of a girl in Trafalgar Square (looks like a photo - brill!) the second is of the violinist Vanessa Mae.

    I think they would sell well, especially when he starts doing Britney Spears etc.

    Cheers!

    Peter

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  2. #2
    Skills to Pay the Bills Sparkie's Avatar
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    I don't think there are any legal issues concerning pictures of famous people..but just to make certain, you might want to check out:

    http://www.freeadvice.com

    Its a free legal advice resource site. It covers all types of law and questions. If you can't find an answer there, try http://www.ptcworld.com which on occasion will provide some legal information concerning copyrights.
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  3. #3
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    Cheers!
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  4. #4
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    Hmmm, interesting. Well, you are free to take photgraphs of people in public places and of public places, but that isn't to say there aren't other things involved. That photograph, for example, might be copyrighted, and if your friend is painting from that... Also, I'm not sure what powers they have over their "likeness".

    Just to give you an example (and this doesn't involve stars exactly): Downtown they are having a large exhibit of stuffed Kermit the Frogs. Many frogs. Local newspaper photographer shoots a shot of some and they are published in the paper. Now it was ok to shoot Kermmie and publish the shot, but not for you to put that shot on your website. Now, you see a nice shot and you decide to paint some Kermit the Frog pictures using a few shots so that you aren't even copying one picture specifically. Jim Henson awakes form his tomb and sues you.

    I don't know what the policy is with live people, and photographers who nsnap celebrities are free to market their picures, so I'd assume this would be a similar case. Just beware of the Muppets.
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  5. #5
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    when you make money from a picture or use it for promotion or whatever they have the person sign a model release which says that it's okay to use the picture in printed material, on the web, for commercial use/non profit use or whatever else. That's for print (not painting)...but I'd assume you should still have written permission from the person or the owner of the original photograph that it's okay to make a painting. But - I'm not a lawyer, so I could be totally wrong.

  6. #6
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    AS JRS385 said, You must obtain a written release from the person to be totally safe.

    If the picture is taken in public it belongs to the photographer.

    If the picture is taken in a private setting, you can not release it without the subject's approval, whether they are famous or not.

    Go to you local photographer and get your picture taken, they will have you sign a release stating that you agree to allow them to "keep ownership of the portraits" and are only purchasing the actual prints.

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  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict jamesglewisf's Avatar
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    I'd email someone at a newspaper or magazine and ask. You might email the journalism or art department at a local college or university. Or look them up and call one of the professors.
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  8. #8
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    Sorry, I may have turned this away from the subject. I was only trying to compare it to a photograph, but the works in question are paintings. It may relate depending on whether he painted the picture from a painting, or if celebrities somehow license their likeness in some way.

    In other words, I seem to remember something about Princess Diana plates and trinkets with her likeness on them. I can't remember if it was illegal per se, but I believe there was some problem with people pushing all that stuff after she died. I would think plates and trinkets with the likeness of Diana might relate to a painting of a famous star possibly. I really don't know about this one.
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  9. #9
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    What he does is run a video through his computer, freeze it and does an oil painting from that. Although it isn't clear where the image comes from in the picture (if you go to the page and look at the Vanessa Mae picture you'll see what I mean!).

    I think Princess Di was an exception because her likeness had been copyrighted by the charity her brother set up.

    Thanks for your replies so far - incidentally what do you think of the pictures? My friend isn't sure they are good enough to sell... what do you think?

    Peter
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot Lorina's Avatar
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    I'm a bit of an artist myself, and, from what I understand (or at least what professors & instructors have told me), is that it's not OK to go from one photograph, but if you have about a dozen or so different photos for "inspiration" and don't just copy an image, it's ok.

    But as far as copying professional photographs, I couldn't even get a color photo-copy made of a portrait of my baby neice. But I think the copyright on that runs out after 20 years, at least that's what someone working at Staples told me. I remember arguing with her that the class photo of Little Lorina from first grade *was* more than twenty years old. (How could I really be upset that she thought I looked too young to have been in 1st grade in 1978?)
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