Can I sell a picture of a celebrity as an NFT?

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Can I sell a picture of a celebrity as an NFT?
Can I sell a picture of a celebrity as an NFT?

An NFT can be anything from a picture, a video, a tweet, a meme, or an audio file of an album or song. The critical aspect that makes them valuable is the ability to track the source and identify it as a unique piece of art using a blockchain.

Because photos can be minted into NFTs, it might seem like a natural progression to use a celebrity photo as an NFT. However, you may be wondering if that is even legal.

In this article, we will be discussing if you can sell a picture of a celebrity as an NFT?

What Is an NFT?

An NFT is a digital asset representing real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency, and they are generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos.

Although they’ve been around since 2014, NFTs are gaining notoriety because they are becoming an increasingly popular way to buy and sell digital artwork. The market for NFTs was worth a staggering $41 billion in 2021 alone, an amount that is approaching the total value of the entire global fine art market.

Why You Shouldn’t Sell a Picture of a Celebrity as an NFT?

Many things should be considered before using another person’s likeness as an NFT.  There is no specific law prohibiting making an NFT of a celebrity (as of the Q2 of 2022), but one will likely be created at some point in the future. Nevertheless, the following issues must be considered:

  • Privacy and  Publicity violation
  • Copyright violation

Privacy and Publicity violation

In other words, famous people have the right to publicise themselves, and by using a picture or likeness of them, you are taking away that right.

You may be able to share pictures of them, but making money off the image can be an outright illegal action, which infringes on their rights as the subject matter. 

To further complicate the matter, the laws can vary greatly depending on where you live and are trying to sell the NFT. While it may be legal in one state, it could be illegal in another. The best thing to consult an attorney before moving forward if you still want to make an NFT of a celebrity.

Copyright violation

Another legal issue you may have to contend with is copyright. For example, there may be a picture that a celebrity has either agreed to share or has shared themselves: for example, a photo from the red carpet at an award show.

However, if someone else took that picture, then that is their property, and if you make it an NFT, then you are using and passing off their work as your own.

These are very similar circumstances that surround NFTs and fanart.

In some places, you may be able to get away with it, but in other areas, you could run into legal battles, which will drive the value of the NFT down and definitely push your legal costs up. In fact, that’s one way to really lose money with NFTs.

Even Quentin Tarantino feels the heat as Miramax recently sued him over some Pulp Fiction NFTs he created.

I don’t think anyone is going to be interested in acquiring an NFT that has the potential of ending up in court.

Furthermore, profiting from someone else’s creative or intellectual property is not a good way to earn money. However, if you took a picture of a celebrity at a public event where they consented to have images taken and, you have consent in writing, it would be your work, and you could potentially make an NFT out of it. 

You may still have to deal with legal issues concerning privacy and publicity further down the road. Many California lawyers advise against minting or auctioning an NFT of a celebrity if you do not get consent from the individual beforehand. 

Conclusion

With the increase in ownership and selling of NFTs, some questions about what is legal and what is not are often at the forefront of those looking to create and sell NFTs.

One big question that many people may wonder about is whether it is legal to make an NFT of a celebrity. The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no, as there are many nuances. 

There is no specific law against it (minting an NFT). Still, the right to privacy, publicity, and copyright can make it difficult, especially if you use the celebrity for promotion or profit. If you want to sell NFTs of celebrities, it is best to get an attorney and then get authorisation from the celebrity in writing.

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