Copyright Law

The Intricacies of Copyright Law by Sarah Staines

The Use of Photography for Promotional Purposes

It is OK to comment on the clothes worn by a celebrity (if you use a photo and it was not taken by you or someone on your behalf then you will need the photographer or publisher of the photograph’s permission to use the picture) as long as the comment is not defamatory; usually OK to preface with “our personal views of these outfits” or something similar. 

However, if the celeb is wearing one of your outfits then if you wanted to use it in promotional materials (more than just a reportage of the fact that the celeb chose to wear the outfit) the celeb would need to agree before you used that to publicise the  company.  The usual procedure is to give the outfit free in return for any and all publicity which is proportionate to the item and profile of the celebrity.  You have to avoid any indication that the celebrity has endorsed your clothes (more than just purchased them to wear) if that is not the case. 

It is OK to keep a “book” (whether electronic or otherwise) showing where the  products have been seen as long as sufficient accreditation of the original distribution is made e.g. an indication (could be click on link, twitter feed or otherwise) that the clothes have been shown in the December Issue of “Red” Magazine page 134.  Again the use of the photo might have to be licensed by the photographer (or publisher, depending on who owned the image) but if it is a link not a “copy” that may be OK.  This is a complicated area so it may be better to get specific advice. 

The UK does not have any specific “privacy laws” but the general rule is do not publish photo’s which show a celebrity and any confidential activity they may be undertaking e.g. the Naomi Campbell case was all about the fact that she was photographed coming out of a drug rehab centre, the premises and their purpose could be seen in the photo; photographing her on the street was fine but publishing information which showed the fact that she had just visited a drug rehab clinic was private.  So if you stick to photographing them at public events the celebs go to then that should be OK.

 If you want more specific advice about copyright in photographs or want to “clear” any particular comment or materials then I would be very happy to help out.  I would have to formally take you on as a client.  I confirm that my hourly rate for this type of work is £185 plus VAT at the prevailing rate. This is a special offer rate for clients of Alison Page.   My contact details are telephone 07787 283749 or email me at

Sarah Staines LLM
Solicitor, Principal
Touchstone Legal Services