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What are the rules for using a celebrity photo on social media?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2021 | Entertainment Law |

The laws pertaining to using celebrity images on social media are confusing. There are some cases where you cannot use your own image if you didn’t take the picture.

Copyright law complicated things, and the American Bar Association explains you should understand ownership rights before using any photo on social media.


The person who took the photo generally owns the rights to it, so if you are a celebrity who posts a photo someone else took of you on your social media, you could be violating copyright law. You may have the right to your image, but the actual photo, even though it is of you, doesn’t belong to you.

Right of publicity

In California, the right of publicity says that you have the right to your name and likeness. You also have the right to your photograph. The unauthorized use of any of these things is illegal. However, use, in this case, means using it for monetary gain. If someone does not make money from it, then you really do not have any claim against them.

In addition, you need to show you suffered an injury of some type due to the other person using your image. A good example is if someone uses your image in a way that damages your reputation. The damage to your reputation is the injury and gives you the right to sue.

Do keep in mind that there are exceptions. Journalists can use your likeness in news stories.

It is important to understand how your ownership of your own image balances with copyright laws. In general, for any situation, if a person makes money or gains something from using the photo on social media, then it is likely a violation of the law.



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