Can I Make an NFT of a Celebrity – NFT Copyright Concerns

NFT art, memes, copycats, and just plain weird stuff, are appearing almost daily in the NFT space.

Although celebrities are getting in on the NFT craze, some people are considering the idea of making an NFT using a celebrities photo and then selling it on for a profit.

Perhaps a caricature, or even artwork of the celebrity, and then sell it as an individual work of art or as an NFT collection.

In practice it sounds fun, marketable, and potentially profitable, but is it a copyright concern to make an NFT depicting a celebrity?

Although celebrities are in the public spotlight, it would be a copyright issue to profit from using a celebrity’s profile to make and sell an NFT without an agreed license to do so. This includes any association of character, trademark, or visual representation of any celebrity.

Celebrities must protect their brand, which is themselves, and why should someone be able to profit from a celebrities profile without an agreement to do so or a formal licensing deal.

Licenses are there to protect the celebrity’s brand and interest, and also for the NFT creator, as then there will be a clear set of defined parameters, conditions, and timescales with which the celebrities name and image can be used as part of an NFT campaign.

You can see license agreements in the real world any time you see a celebrity’s image on a popular product, or promoting a service, or when their name is used on merchandise.

Sell publicly taken celebrity photos as NFTs

What happens if you spot an A-List celebrity in a public place and take a photo, can you sell that as an NFT?

It is in a public setting, you own the copyright to the photo and the paparazzi do this all the time, right?

This is where it becomes a bit of a grey area when it comes to copyright.

First, the paparazzi taking a photo of a celebrity and then selling that on to a magazine or newspaper is different to making and selling an NFT.

They sound the same but are very different.

The photo of the celebrity in a public place taken by the paparazzi will be used for editorial and news purposes. This sits outside the usual copyright and consent laws.

It can be argued the newspaper makes a commercial profit by having the celebrity on the front page, and is a continuing and long-fought argument between the media and celebrities, but under the editorial rights agreement this is permitted.

If the paparazzi were to take the same photo and use this for commercial purposes, for example creating a t-shirt and selling it on their website, it would be a breach of copyright.

The commercial use of the celebrity’s photo for selling t-shirts, which could be seen by a t-shirt buyer as an endorsement of the product by the celebrity themselves, is considered different to the non-commercial use of the celebrity’s photo in a magazine.

On the other hand, no one would looking at a tabloid photo of a celebrity coming out of a restaurant in a semi-awkward pose any type of endorsement of the magazine itself.

Therefore, taking the photo of a celebrity and commercially profiting from it by creating an NFT and selling it on an NFT marketplace is not legal.

For this you would need a license agreement for its commercial use.

How to get a celebrity license agreement for an NFT

If you are really set on launching an NFT collection of a celebrity, you will need to reach out and get an agreement to do so.

The higher the profile of the celebrity the more difficult it will be.

Each celebrity will have one or more publicists depending on the nature of the license requested. This though is the best place to start.

You can pitch your proposed idea, ask about license agreements and research as much as you can.

A-List celebrities are likely to say no to any potential attempt to commercial profit from their name or image unless a large business is involved.

Celebrities though come in all forms, and although years ago celebrities were those found in mainstream media, there is a significant rise of social media celebrities.

You are more likely to get agreement from a social media celebrity for an NFT license endorsement than an A-List movie star.

Also, the social media celebrity will have the best audience with which to promote their NFTs too.

Anyone who successfully creates an NFT agency to help social media influencers promote their own ranges of NFTs is going to become another billion-dollar business.

Marketing NFTs is the hardest thing to do when launching a collection but an influencer or social media celebrity already has the followers.

Their audience may not (yet) be NFT savvy, but it is an audience nonetheless, and with audience and profile comes NFT buyers.

The two go hand in hand.

Social media celebrities can usually be reached through their social media platform, or through their website directly if they have one.

Pitch the idea of launching an NFT collection, including number of NFTs, the mint price and potential revenue and you may be able to do a collaboration or joint venture in to the NFT space together!

How to make a celebrity NFT

If you already have a commercial agreement from a celebrity (congratulations!) you will need to go ahead and create the NFT.

There are guides throughout NFT Niches that can help with this. I would recommend starting with How to Make NFT art which will walk you step-by-step through the process.

Once your NFT has been created you will most likely need to gain the approval of all the NFT images from the celebrity, their publicist or agent.

This is so they can approve how their image and brand will be used.

Once the license agreement is in place and you have the approval on the artwork, it’s time to mint and sell!

The celebrity can help promote the NFTs through their audience or channel, and as an NFT enthusiast it can be promoted through various NFT calendars, and alpha groups.

Collaboration through other NFT collections with an audience will help raise the profile of your NFT venture to those who are already in the space.

NFT buyers are always looking for NFT projects with an edge, and a social influencer backing has just that.

With a successful sell-out, and future royalty revenue, it could be a very lucrative venture for you both!

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