Just something I've wondered about for a while. Ownership of our likenesses seems to be fairly weak in the US, but photography of public art such as graffiti can be a copyright violation.

Could a celebrity argue that his or her body is a canvas, and that the application of makeup, jewelry, and clothing changes their image from a likeness to an actual copyright-protected work of art?

The fact that paparazzi still exist makes me strongly suspect the answer is "no", but I'm interested to know why that may be the case.

Edit 1 (at the suggestion of Studoku)

Tattoo artists have sued game publishers for accurately depicting athletes with their work at least twice, and these two cases seem to have contradictory outcomes (links below). So, there seems to be an open question about whether images of a tattooed body can be reproduced in a video game without the artist's consent, even if the subject himself or herself consents.

Could this have legal implications for paparazzi?

Ruled in favor of tattoo artist against Take Two Interactive: https://casetext.com/case/alexander-v-take-two-interactive-software-inc-4

Ruled against tattoo artist in favor of 2K Games: https://casetext.com/case/solid-oak-sketches-llc-v-2k-games-inc

Edit 2 (comment from David Siegel)

[T]he case against take two was on a preliminary motion and did not finally settle the case on the merits, although it looks positive for the tattoo artist. The 2nd case (against 2K) merely dismisses statutory damages because the holder did not register the copyright before infringement started, but left the issue of actual damages for later determination. Neither is a final decision on the issues.

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    If that were considered a work of "graphic art" the copyright might well belong to the makeup artist, not the celeb. But mostly when in costume at least, celbs largely want to be photographed I think so such claims are not brought. Just a guess, no source, so not posting as an answer Mar 3, 2021 at 6:40
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    @DavidSiegel All comments are appreciated, even if not definitive answers. Thanks!
    – Nick O.
    Mar 3, 2021 at 7:07
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    I think a valid copyright could be held, but that the paparazzi would have a fairly strong fair use claim.
    – Ryan M
    Mar 3, 2021 at 8:33
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    Bustin Jieber's copyrighted look is hideous, here's why. Boom, fair use for evaluation purposes. Mar 3, 2021 at 11:43
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    There are numerous cases of tattoos being consideed copyrighted- can we add using them to beat paparazzi to the question? Mar 3, 2021 at 11:46


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