The Right of Publicity can be defined as the right to control the commercial use of one’s identity. That definition raises a number of questions as it should. The questions can start by what does it really mean. The idea is basically that no one can use your image without your consent for things other than casual or limited items. or can they? If you are just a face in the crowd of a street scene, tough luck, now if they put your image on a billboard because you are wearing a pair of sexy jeans and name you. That is a different story. Depending on which state you live is more important than anything as you will see.
Some people confuse this with their so called right to privacy which the Supreme Court has ruled many times does not exist unless first you prove an expectation of privacy. If you are in public in any form you are not subject to any privacy. Basically if you can be seen from the street, inside a building that has general public areas, cars with clear windows, and buses with the windows down and as in the photo on this article a train and outside the train you have no privacy rights at all. That is all about privacy in this article.
We are talking here about protecting your image not anything else. Most people I have talked to about it say there is a federal law about it. Wrong, it is a state issue and big surprise many states do not recognize it. How inconvenient for some. The issue becomes what state the image was taken. The image above is on a steam locomotive train in Colorado. Colorado is one of the states that do not recognize the right of publicity. So I can use it even for commercial work but hold the train a moment. There is another issue in the image. There is a Nikon D300 in the photo so copyright infringement may come into the scene. In all fairness, Nikon would probably love to see the photo used for something that promotes their product for free. So be fair and think about it.
You can see that there is more to the issue of using someone’s image than the wife’s tails that abound in people’s minds and the internet. Some states could care less about it and others protect a person’s image for longer than copyrights are protected.
The following states currently do not recognize the right of publicity: Alaska; Arkansas; Colorado; Delaware; Idaho; Iowa; Kansas; Maine; Maryland; Mississippi; Montana; New Mexico; North Carolina; North Dakota; Oregon; South Carolina; South Dakota; Vermont, Wyoming.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. These are my personal opinions and general information only. These are not legal advice and should not be used as such.