Can I copy and sell a poster of a celebrity that I found on-line?

I wish to create a Buddy Holly poster and sell it online using a photograph I found on-line. What problems arise when doing this?

Asked on March 21, 2011 under Business Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the problem is that you almost certainly do not have the right to do this on two separate grounds or bases:

1) Holly's heirs, or whomever acquired the rights to his likeness after his death, would have the right to control uses of his image; without their permission (which probably rests with family of his), you can't use his picture.

2) In addition to the above, whomever took the photograph may well have copyright in it (alot depends on exactly when it was taken, if copyright was renewed, etc.)--if there is an artist, a company, etc. who owns the rights to this photograph, the mere fact that you found it on the web does not allow you to use it for your own benefit or profit.

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