I would like to know if it is legal to use a celebrity’s likeness for commercial use.


I am just curious if it is legal to use a celebrity’s likeness for commercial use. I
have seen a range of different answers on the internet. It seems that there are
some unknown boundaries between what is legal and what is not. How much
likeness constitutes something being illegal? If these images are caricatures of
celebrities then is this legal?

Asked on September 26, 2017 under Business Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is only legal IF the entire purpose is satire: for example, think of Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, or celebrities on "South Park." For non-satiric purposes, you need the celebrity's permission, since the default is that everyone (includin celebrities) controls the commercial use of their own likeness or image, subject to certain very narrow exceptions (e.g. satire; or reporting on the news).

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