LegalZoom Blog

Legal news and small business tips.

The Selfie & Unauthorized Commercial Tweets

with 3 comments


Shutterstock/Jayme Burrows

Shutterstock/Jayme Burrows

In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries picked “selfie” as Word of the Year. In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie may have been the selfie to top all others. The Hollywood Reporter website stated that it’s valued at close to a billion dollars. Her tweet on a Samsung phone was seen by 37 million people according to the article.

Unfortunately, Samsung may have crossed a line when it picked another celebrity to capitalize on a particularly fortunate circumstance. David Ortiz aka “Big Papi” was visiting President Obama at the White House along with his Red Sox teammates to celebrate their 2013 World Series win. Ortiz took the now infamous selfie with the President and tweeted it.

According to The Washington Post, “Samsung retweeted it, saying that the company was ‘thrilled to see the special, historic moment David Ortiz captured with his Galaxy Note 3 during his White House visit.’” President Obama had not been informed that selfie would be used for commercial purposes and was less than pleased. Ortiz had agreed to be Samsung’s “MLB social media insider” the day before the visit.

Business Insider article noted that soon after the Ortiz selfie debacle, the White House asked visiting Olympic athletes to keep their phones in their pockets. Could 2014 signal the beginning of the end of the commercial selfie?

That remains to be seen. But at the very least, before tweeting a selfie or any photo for that matter, brands might want to be more careful with what they try to get away with. A famous pharmacy chain may be learning the hard way.

Adweek reported that actress Katherine Heigl was shopping at a Duane Reade and was photographed by the paparazzi. The store tweeted the image with language stating that Heigl couldn’t resist shopping there. The photo and wording were also used for a Facebook post. According to the article, Heigl did not give permission for her photo to be used for promotion. Further, the store would not delete the tweet or Facebook post after her representatives asked. Subsequently, the actress filed a lawsuit against the store seeking six million dollars in damages.

Ouch.

ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Sign up for the LegalZoom newsletter!

Written by

May 8th, 2014 at 10:24 am