Bob creates a doll of Rob (with startlingly realistic resemblance) without him knowing and starts selling it. Bob does not promote any idea, service or other product with this doll: it's the doll itself that is being promoted, so there's nothing for Rob to endorse (or refuse endorsing).

Does Rob have any legal standing to stop Bob from doing it?

Let's assume that 1) Rob is no one (not generally recognisable in public); 2) He is a celebrity or a politician.

If Bob is to encounter any legal troubles, why exactly? How making dolls is different from selling photographs of Rob taken in public without promoting any product, service or idea — which in most common law jurisdictions would not require Rob's permission?

  • Seriously? Rob is not protected by copyright. Is the copyright tag just a red herring?
    – user6726
    Oct 9 at 4:09
  • @user6726 You and I know that Rob is not protected by copyright, but Rob (or many other readers here) won't necessarily know it.
    – Greendrake
    Oct 9 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


People generally have the Recht am eigenen Bild, the right to control the publication of their image. There are many exceptions and clarifications -- freedom of the press, the right to take pictures when someone else is indistinct in the background, etc.

People have the right to object to the sale of a t-shirt or a mug with their face on it. I expect that a doll with their face on it would be no different, provided it is really as recognizable as you describe. This is somewhat obscure in §23 KunstUrhG, but the subject of the image would have a 'justified interest' not to have the image used commercially.

It may be legal to publish an image in a newspaper editorial content, illustrating a news story, and illegal to publish the same image in paid advertising on the same page ...

  • There's a Wikipedia page about personality rights which covers this topic in an international way. German law seems to allow greater latitude in depicting a person if someone is a historically important individual rather than a private figure.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 9 at 14:13
  • @StuartF, that's in part for press purposes. Historically and politically relevant persons have to accept ending up on the cover of a news magazine. They do not have to accept someone else selling merchandise with their image.
    – o.m.
    Oct 9 at 18:14

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