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In 2008 and 2009 a popular TV show used a family photo of me when I was a child without my permission.

Dallas, TX |

This popular TV show showed at picture of me as a child with my sister and niece every day in the opening of the show. How they came to have the photo we don't understand. I nor any family member gave permission for the use of the photo. Do they owe me compensation for its use? Is there are statue of limitations? The shows are still being seen through reruns and online.

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Attorney answers 4


Probably yes, but you will need an attorney. Where is the show braodcast from? or produced?

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and I have practiced over 38 years and can be reached at 213-819-1171. I practiced mainly in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. I am not seeking clients from existing relationships with other attorneys, and give only limited advise over the phone (the phone is primarily used to set appointments), these services do not create an attorney client relationship



The Show is called People's Court and taped in Florida and shown all over the US and several other Countries. When I say that the picture is a family photo. It was a photo taken by my dad at a family gathering. It was never posted to the internet and we can't figure how they got it. Would I have to go to Florida if I were to suit?

Stephen Ross Cohen

Stephen Ross Cohen


Consult a Texas Attorney, but I think you can sue in Texas


In general, right of publicity laws prohibit the use of one's image for a commercial purpose without the written consent of that person. However, there are exceptions. These laws vary from state to state and I'm not licensed in Texas and do not know the law there. Consult with a local intellectual property attorney familiar with these laws as you may have a valid claim. Best of luck.

Alexander Montgomery
Cornetet, Meyer, Rush & Kirzner

No attorney-client relationship implied or accepted without a signed fee agreement. This response is theoretical only and for purposes of discussion. Attorney is not liable for any opinion expressed herein. Attorney is licensed in Ohio only.


Reputable producers and entertainment attorney are usually very cautious about this sort of thing, and in obtaining the appropriate intellectual property rights and releases before airing a television broadcast program. The photograph may have been for something unrelated for which you signed a release. Or perhaps someone made a mistake and this slipped between the cracks (with each rerun a potential new violation). So, are you entitled to compensation? Maybe, or maybe not. Hire an entertainment or IP attorney to investigate this further and contact the producers if appropriate.

This answer is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as specific legal advice regarding your question. The answer could be different if all of the facts were known. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


You might be able to sue for violation of your right of publicity, but a great deal may depend upon how the producers of the TV show acquired this photograph. There are indeed statutes of limitations, but you need to consult with a Texas lawyer as to them.

But your big problem here is that your claim may not be worth much. Unless you were the photographer, you do not have a claim for copyright infringement (which might not be worth much anyway if the photograph was not registered with the copyright office within three months of its first publication). Your only claim is for violating your right of publicity. If you are a famous celebrity, and if your name is often used to endorse products in exchange for significant compensation, then you may have a valuable claim. But if you are an average person like me, your damages may be relatively small. It costs a lot of money to litigate claims like this, and the economic payoff is probably not going to be worth the investment in legal fees and costs.

Perhaps your best strategy would be to retain counsel to attempt to negotiate some kind of modest payment. But if you think are are entitled to some kind of financial windfall here, you are mistaken.