Explain the Paparozzi

Maybe I am naive, but I don’t understand how the Paparozzi functions. Don’t you need permission to publish photos of any recognizable people in your pictures? Is it simply a matter of volume that actors cannot keep up with filing law suit after law suit to combat the volume of unauthorized photos?

No, you do not need permission (at least not in the U.S.) to photograph any person in public, or to publish that photo. For the most part you do not need permission if the person is on private property and the property owner gives you permission to be on that property.

You can not use someone’s photograph for “commercial purposes” without their permission, but that isn’t the same as getting a photo of a glamorous actress coming out of the supermarket wearing sweatpants and selling it to the Enquirer.

It’s the difference between that and using that picture in an ad for those sweatpants.

In paragraph 2 above, I fail to understand the difference. Please elaborate for I must be missing something.

You can sell a photograph that you took in public. You cannot use a photograph that you took in public to sell something.

More specifically, you can’t use a photograph to imply that a particular person endorses your product or business without their permission.

It’s also true, at least in the U.S.A., that people with notoriety have a lower expectation of privacy than you or I do.

Freedom of the press allows us photographers to use photographs in an editorial context liberally. Commercial usage is quite a different matter. As I don’t want to risk explaining the distinctions incorrectly, I refer you to this article on the matter.

You can sell a photo you took of a celebrity drinking a Coke on the street in public to a tabloid (it’s essentially protected as “news”), but you can’t use the photo in an ad saying “so-and-so prefers Coke over Pepsi” without their permission.


Just wanted to add one more thought to all of this. I have entered photo contests where the rules make it very clear not show people who can be identified in the photos, or have them sign a release. So, in light of this policy vs. what has been said in this thread…are all the photo contests wrong (or, just overprotective against a lawsuit)? How does this mesh with the fact the Paparazzi can go running wild?

It’s the “public figure” thing, as GaryM said.

Also, the policy you cite is a rule of the photo contest, not a law. (Yes, I realize they instituted the rule so as to avoid lawsuits, but still ….)

The reason photo contests require model waivers is so that the winning photo may be used in marketing materials for the contest (or whatever they’re promoting.)

That and it helps their PR to follow certain standards. This is particularly common with blurring out the faces of children.

No, it isn’t.

To elaborate, as explained before. If you can be seen from a photographer who is standing in a place that he is allowed to be (in a public place or in a private place with permission) then you have no expectation of privacy from being photographed, regardless of whether you are a public figure.

Indeed, there is no privacy exception for public figures. Public figures have the same expectations of privacy as everyone else. The public figure doctrine is a part of defamation law, not privacy law.