Selling photos of pro athletes:

Started Oct 9, 2002 | Discussions thread
Ed Mulholland Regular Member • Posts: 188
Re: Selling photos of pro athletes:

I photograph professional boxing and have sold plenty of photos to fans, promoters, magazines, and the fighters themselves with no problems. However with that said, boxing does not have a union or national type commission, the way other sports do ie NFL, MLB...You would have to check with the offices of each sport regarding this. Just about every photo I've seen for sale of baseball players contains the logo of MLB somewhere, newspapers and magazines excluded. I have press credentials and ringside priority to get my shots, I give my shots to the place I shoot for to use, but retain all my rights for future sales...


Deeddawg wrote:
There are a number of books on this topic, and also a lot of prior
discussion of such issues on this forum which you might find very
informative. I would recommend running a search on the terms
"model release"

As to your specific question, I am not a lawyer, so do not take
what I say as official legal advice. I might even be wrong.

In general, you are legally entitled to take pictures of anyone or
anything that is in a public venue -- or can be reasonably
photographed FROM a public location.

Where things get interesting is in what you are then allowed to DO
with such photographs.

News media can publish newsworthy photos without the permission of
anyone in the photograph, so long as they do not in any way convey
some sort of libelous or slanderous meaning to the photo such as
through the use of a caption.

Outside of newsmedia usage, the photograph may not be published for
any sort of commercial purpose without the permission of the
subject of the photograph. Thus the use of a "model release" which
gives the photographer the right to use that photograph or
photographs of the person under the conditions detailed in the
model release. Commercial purposes include selling the photos to
others, or using the photos in your own portfolio if you use that
portfolio to advertise your services/business.

This comes about from the idea that nobody should be able to profit
from a person's likeness without that person's permission.

A grey area where a lot of people operate is that of sports/action
photography where the target market is the parents of the
individual athletes or the athletes themselves. Given that the
photographer is only attempting to sell to the persons in the
photograph, then by purchsing it the subject of the photograph is
effectively giving their permission for the photographer to profit
from the photo -- because if they don't buy it, the photographer
doesn't profit. In terms of posed group/team photos where it
is clear that the photographer will be selling those photos to the
team members, one could theoretically argue that anyone who
willingly joins the posed shot is implicitly giving their
permission for the photographer to sell their likeness to the other
team members/parents.

Hope this helps. Like I said, check the search function -- you'll
find a lot of very detailed discussion of this topic.

Dave wrote:

Is it legal to sell photographs of professional athletes taken at
sporting events? I’m referring to selling images to the public as
art not as stock. I have seen photographs of musicians from
concerts being sold but never understood the legality regarding


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