Photo Attorney

Sep 4, 2006

Book Cover Photo is Deemed Editorial Use

Photographers often have difficulty knowing whether a certain use of a photograph is editorial or commercial. If the use is editorial, then no model release is needed from the person in the photo. Many photographers assume that since book covers help to sell the book, a photo placed there must be a commercial use. That assumption recently was proven wrong.

Thais Cardoso Almeida's photograph was published on the cover of a book called "Anjos Proibidos" or "Forbidden Angels." Amazon.com posted the book cover on its website as part of its sales listing. Almeida sued Amazon in Florida for right of publicity, civil theft, and invasion of privacy claims. The Florida court awarded summary judgment to Amazon on all claims and Almeida appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 11th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Amazon. In sum, it held that Amazon's incidental display of photographs from the cover or inside of a book was not for a commercial purpose. Amazon's display of the book (and Almeida's photograph) was essentially the same experience provided by a bookstore for its customers and did not create a right of publicity claim.

Knowing your rights as a photographer can make your job easier. Fortunately, we now have more knowledge as to what those rights are.

Take my advice; get professional help.
PhotoAttorney®

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