Can I post video of my favorite celebrity online?

Question:

I am about to launch a fan site for a particular actress. I'd like to include a couple of short video clips showing her performing go-go at a nightclub, plus some photos. Will I run into any copyright problems? Does it make a difference whether the site is for paying members only?

Answer:

If you recorded that video yourself, you own the copyright and can post it. But if the video comes from another source and you don't have permission, posting that footage is likely to be classified as copyright infringement. The items you mention -- videoclips and photos -- are protected under copyright law. If the copyright owners become aware of your violation, you might have to pay money damages and remove the infringing material. The fact that your site is for paying members only won't protect you from charges of infringement.

On top of this, the use of someone's image for purposes of financial gain can violate that person's "right of publicity" -- a law that prohibits you from implying that person endorses your products or services.

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