Can I Sell Prints of Someone I Don't Know?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by sawyer_lt, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. I am getting ready to sell my first prints of some photos I took at a public event in town, some (but very few) of which are portraits of strangers. Can I (legally) sell photos of someone I don't know / who doesn't know me? It may just be that the portraits are included in a collage of photos, but I'd like to sell them individually if I am able to.
    The event was very packed and moving fast, so I couldn't stop these people to ask them this question specifically. Most of my photos were very spur-of-the-moment; I didn't even look at them until I got home later that day.
    Thanks for the help!
  2. Assuming you're in the USA - you need a signed release if the person is recognizable.
  3. Not Always. See:
  4. From the OP's description, it seems clear the intent is commercial use of the image(s), not editorial use.
  5. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Print sales are not considered commercial use. This has been upheld even in fairly high profile cases like Nussenzweig vs DiCorcia. Any issue you could have would be due to rights of privacy, which vary by state. Despite the variance, all the state regulations are pretty similar and say you can't invade someone's privacy (which does not apply to public spaces), you can't disclose private facts, which doesn't usually apply to photography, and you can't portray people in "false light." The last is generally tied to captioning. Maybe you have someone photographed outside a porn shop while they stopped to take a call and captioned it "on the way into a porn shop." Commercial appropriation is usually included, but that applies to use of the photo to sell a product.
    In other words, you don't need a release based on what most state laws specify. And it definitely is NOT commercial usage.
    charles_webster|1 likes this.
  6. it


    McCurry never gets releases.
  7. Photographs taken in public may be printed and sold. You can also use the images for editorial purposes, for example in a book or selling them to a newspaper to be used in an article.

    You may not sell them or use them commercially. This usually means advertising.

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