If a celebrity’s photograph with a restaurant owner hangs in the window of the eatery without the individual’s permission, is it an unauthorized commercial use of the image? Yes, according to former President Bill Clinton, who has demanded that a photograph of his daughter with the owner, that has been hanging in the window of Osso Buco for five years, be taken down. Clinton’s attorney has written on official William Jefferson Clinton letterhead, “We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us if you refuse to comply.”
“Ms. Clinton, a private citizen, was not consulted prior to this picture being displayed, and thus, her permission was not given for you to do so. While she may have dined at your restaurant, this does not serve as an endorsement. We ask that you immediately remove that picture and any and all pictures displaying Ms. Clinton.”
This type of suit isn’t my bailiwick, but so I sure would be interested in knowing what the actual answer is.
I would add, of course, that a simple request from the frequent customer, Chelsea, should have accomplished this goal.
(Eric Turkewitz is a personal injury attorney in New York)