You may feel angry or even scared when you notice yourself in an unauthorized ad. These feelings are understandable. You work hard at your sport, and you care about your reputation. Accordingly, you are careful about how your image is used and the products or causes you endorse. 

The team at Global Sports Advocates will act quickly to get any unauthorized photos or likenesses taken down.

3 Legal Reasons Why Your Image Can’t Be Used Without Permission

Athletes Rights Sports Attorney Global Sports Advocates

Using your image without permission may be morally wrong, but you need a legal reason to have your unauthorized image removed. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have your image removed for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Right of Publicity

You may have a right to publicity claim if:

  • Your name, image, or likeness was used for commercial purposes without permission. The right of publicity applies to commercial use where someone seeks to make money by associating their products or services with you.
  • The public could identify you. Members of the public must be able to associate the name, likeness, image, or other indicia of your identity with you.

The right of publicity is the legal claim often brought by celebrities, including athletes, to remove unauthorized images from internet sites. The specific elements of a right of publicity claim vary from state to state. At least 14 states have the right of publicity statutes, and many others have common law that governs right of publicity cases.

2. Invasion of Privacy

It may not always feel like it, but athletes do have the right to privacy. Someone may have violated your right to privacy if they:

  • Portray you falsely and offensively. For example, it may be an invasion of privacy to claim that you committed a crime that there is no evidence you committed.
  • Intruded on you somewhere where you had a reasonable expectation of privacy. It may be an invasion of privacy to take and publish a photo of you at your backyard pool because you have a reasonable expectation of privacy at your own home.

3. Defamation

Defamation may occur if the photo presents a false impression about you and hurts your reputation. The law varies from state to state, but you generally need to prove four things to bring a successful defamation case, including that the photo was:

  • Published somewhere (and not for private use)
  • False (incorrect portrayal of you)
  • Injurious (hurt you in some way)
  • Unprivileged (not used in a protected way)

It’s not enough that the photo is unflattering or presents you in a bad light. Instead, there must be something false or untrue about the photo or how the photo is used that hurts your reputation.

Let Us Help You Get Your Image Removed as Soon as Possible

Your goal is to protect your reputation. Our experienced sports law attorneys share that goal. We will thoroughly examine all applicable laws and advise you of your legal options that will help you protect your rights and obtain monetary damages.

Are You an Athlete Seeking to Protect Your Brand, Image, or Intellectual Property Rights?

If you're an athlete who needs to protect your image from being exploited by others without your permission, it is critical that you speak with an experienced sports attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule your free consultation. Our firm is devoted to the very specific practice of sports law and has represented athletes from over 50 countries and more than 50 different sports. We are dedicated advocates for clients who need to protect their images and brands from others trying to profit from their achievements. Don't hesitate. Contact us today.

Paul Greene
Recognized as one of the world’s leading sports lawyers and a well-known speaker and author.