Can someone point me to finding out what the rules are about using photos that I've taken? I've heard things about needing written permission from a person before you can use his/her photo for commercial purposes. What if their photo is incidental to your main product and not your main product? What if the person in the photo is deceased?
What you've heard is correct, see link below. Whether the use is incidental or not hardly matters, as long as the use is commercial.
If deceased, you can't very easily ask for permission, but the heirs might have objections. In copyright, we talk about the "moral right" (droit morale), which does not expire after death. These two concepts, privacy and moral rights, both have that in common that they deal with a person's reputation. Personally, I would find it immoral to use a deceased person's picture for financial gain.
There are exceptions, of course, like famous people, who have little expectation of privacy in public settings. And if you take a picture down a crowded street, someone is in the forefront, this may not be viewed as a portrait.
Hope this helps.
http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/images/h … ctures.htm
Thank you, Cyberlawyer. My specific situation involves the use of a photo in a book I wrote about grief and the photo is of the person who died that I grieved over. There's nothing defamatory about the photo, it's a very nice one. Obviously, if the book sells, there will be financial gain from the book that contains a single photo of a person among 100 pages of written text.
Thank you, loriamoore, that helps put things into perspective. What is or isn't appropriate may depend on the specific circumstances, and what I had in mind when using the word "unethical" was more something like an advertisement.
Whether your book makes a profit or not doesn't really matter. If you are selling it, the activity is commercial. It could even be seen as commercial if you handed out free books for purposes of self-promotion or the like.
I came across this interesting reference (link and quotation provided below), which may provide a clue to the answer you are seeking. It appears that there are no privacy concerns for a deceased person. However, from what you are saying about the book involving many persons, the publicity concerns may nonetheless be significant as the book evolves around the deceased person.
"As a general rule the right of privacy will only apply to a living person while the right of publicity may also apply to a deceased person."
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