I am paying Zuma Ltd for a licensing fee to publish an image that has been online since 2016 which includes faces of at least two famous individuals and several anonymous audience members. The image depicts a protest by the group, CodePink, at a Congressional hearing. Do I need permission from the CodePink protestors and/or anonymous audience members to use this image on the cover of my book?

1 Answer 1


This depends very much on your specific jurisdiction. In a number of US states (but not all states) and some other jurisdictions people have "personality rights", also called "rights of publicity". In jurisdictions that have such rights, one may not use a person's image, name, or persona to advertise or promote a product or service without permission, which is often in the form of a license, and or whch a fee is usually charged.

In a case like the one described in the question, it is not the group whose permission is needed, but the individuals shown in the picture.

That the image has been posted to the internet does not of itself grant such permission, or waive any license fee. Note that the right to use an image for promotion is not the same as the right to make and distribute copies. One may have the right to make copies but not the right to use an image for promotion.

Using an image on a book cover would constitute using it for promotion of the book.

You might also need the permission of any audience members who are visible and recognizable in the image.

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