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Publicity Rights

What are publicity rights?
Can I use someone else's name, image or likeness in my own artwork?

What are publicity rights?

Imagine you’re perusing the website and you stumble on merchandise with a familiar face—yours. First, relish and/or cringe at your newfound internet fame. Second, cue your publicity rights. In the USA, no matter your status or celebrity, publicity rights can protect the commercial use of a person’s identity (including yours!).

On the flip side, that means that publicity laws may also prevent you from using someone else’s name, image or likeness to sell your products. If your artwork uses someone else’s name or the image is recognizable enough, it may violate his or her publicity rights, even if it’s your own drawing or other artistic interpretation of the person’s likeness.

Other countries might have similar laws that protect publicity rights.

Can I use someone else’s name, image or likeness in my own artwork?

Long story short, it’s never a good idea without express permission from the person. Publicity rights apply to photographs, illustrations, and every media in between.

Macaroni Art 101

Even if your masterpiece is a tasteful macaroni homage to your favorite actor—that actor (or company that has licensed that person’s publicity rights) may not approve. This could result in your artwork being named in a takedown notice and its removal from Redbubble.

But remember: you own your own likeness. In most cases, that means somebody can’t just sell a picture of you! That also means you can use your name and likeness in whatever way you wish and realize all the possible profit.

Look at you, you macaroni stud.

If you’re unsure whether your work would infringe someone’s publicity rights, it’s best to seek advice from an attorney before you upload it to the Redbubble marketplace.

Obligatory Yet Very Important Legal Disclaimer:

Don’t be fooled by any complicated jargon (and how snazzy we look in pinstripe). We are not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. We recommend contacting an attorney if you need an actual legal consultation.

Rather, this is general information aimed at giving you the legal lay of the land. While we can’t defend you in court, we know that art and IP ownership can be murky territory; the least we can do is arm you with the right kind of knowledge to get you started.


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