Listen to my podcast interview with intellectual property attorney Mark J. Rosenberg, as we explore the question: Can you feature someone in a video advertisement simply because you have video footage (or can access video footage) of them using or talking about your product, service, or brand? Also, what is the most legally safe way to feature a video of a public figure and use that for your own business purposes?
The Obama Billboard in Times Square: Legal or Illegal Marketing?
I was inspired to do this topic based on the recent news coverage of a huge billboard featured in Times Square. At issue is an AP photo of President Obama's trip to the Great Wall appearing in ad for Weatherproof, a jacket/apparel company.
A New York Times article offers a good insight into how both Weatherproof and the White House perceive the advertisement, along with some independent legal analysis…
A White House aide was quoted: "This ad is clearly misleading because the company suggests the approval or endorsement of the president or the White House that it does not have.”
In a company statement, Weatherproof's president said that "there was no intention of saying the president, in any way, endorses the Weatherproof jacket." The company agreed to remove the billboard ad after a couple weeks, but argued that they have sufficient legal basis to keep it up if they chose to.
Also interviewed was an intellectual property lawyer, who was quoted: "The legal framework for re-use of an image of a president is somewhat unclear, falling between publicity rights and the First Amendment.”
What the Obama Billboard Controversy can Teach us About Legal Online Video Marketing
In my podcast interview with attorney Mark J. Rosenberg, he shares his expert legal perspective to the following questions I post to him:
- Was Weatherproof's ad campaign legal?
- How can you define who is a "public figure?”
- Can you feature someone in a video advertisement simply because they're using your product or service?
- What leeway can a business be given with featuring a public figure in their own promotional video content or advertisement?
- What issues does this scenario raise in terms of right-of-publicity vs. fair use?
- Can any businesses that's not a news publication have a right to use any video footage of a public figure for "newsworthy purposes" without needing clearance?
- What could be a proper procedure for someone to obtain video, image, or other media content of a public figure and use that for one's own online video content for business purposes?