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.

Legal Video Marketing News: Are Public Figures Fair Game? articleLarge1

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.”

ALSO ►  U.S. Appeals Court: YouTube Creators Must Consider Fair Use Before Issuing Takedown Notices

What the Obama Billboard Controversy can Teach us About Legal Online Video Marketing

Legal Video Marketing News: Are Public Figures Fair Game? weatherproof obama jacket 010710 lg In my podcast interview with attorney Mark J. Rosenberg, he shares his expert legal perspective to the following questions I post to him:

  1. Was Weatherproof's ad campaign legal?
  2. How can you define who is a "public figure?”
  3. Can you feature someone in a video advertisement simply because they're using your product or service?
  4. What leeway can a business be given with featuring a public figure in their own promotional video content or advertisement?
  5. What issues does this scenario raise in terms of right-of-publicity vs. fair use?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  • Desktop computers

    i dont know.....

  • Serry J

    FINALLY had a chance to listen to the podcast.........OK, MARK here is my questions.The actual billboard is obviously the Great Wall of China 1) If the WATERPROOF had in the bill board " WATERPROOF... A Leader in Style since 1948" would that have helped? 2) Is Obama NOT endorsing the jacket by wearing it??
    GRANT, I liten to these video/audios at work. Can you TELL us how long it is and a different audio player that allows me to STOP and START it IF I get interrupted........would be appreciated

  • HarlemTalkRadio

    We Had to post this article on facebook. We like the book concept go for it.

  • r martin

    I don't own a pod.... nor do i cast....
    how about writing at least a summary for us

    • Grant Crowell

      But you do have a play button! :)

  • Mark Robertson

    Sorry folks - you should be seeing this work now. Please let me know if you still do not see the podcast.

    • Grant Crowell

      Hopefully we won't get sued by Obama. ;)

      (And thanks, Gerry, for the blog post and Facebook mention. To everyone that's listening, I encourage you to offer your reviews on our iTunes channel – thanks!)

  • gerryoginski

    Hi Grant,
    I just posted this blog post to the Lawyers Video Studio group on Facebook, then came to watch the podcast. I noticed the podcast isn't up! Where'd it go? Let us know please.


  • gerryoginski

    Where's the podcast?
    I just posted your blog post on my facebook group, the Lawyers' Video Studio, and then went to watch the podcast and realized, huh? Where'd it go? Let us know please.


    • Mark Robertson


      It should be there now. Are you still not seeing it?

  • SerryJW

    RFLOL! Maybe it should be moved next to the article??

    • Mark Robertson

      Yeah - trying to fix that. Sorry about that Serry

  • Serry

    WHERE is the podcast?

    • Grant Crowell

      Click the green play button.