1. What are portrait rights?

Portrait right gives you the right to object to the publication of your portrait. If you have ‘a reasonable interest’ you can prohibit the publication of your portrait. You can read more about the definition of ‘reasonable interest’ on this page.

2. Are portrait rights only for famous people?

No, every person has portrait rights. It’s not just for celebrities. However, a famous person likely has a ‘reasonable interest’ to oppose the use of his portrait more often. More on that later.

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3. What is a portrait?

A portrait is an image of a person that is recognisable in that image. In most cases, it will be a photo, but not necessarily.

4. Can a drawing also be a portrait?

Yes, it doesn’t matter how the image was created, whether it’s a photo or, for example, a drawn caricature. The moment someone is recognisable in an image or video, it is called a portrait.

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5. Can a look-alike also be a portrait

Yes, a look-alike can also be a portrait, which is logical because a look-alike suggests recognition. For example, in 2022, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Max Verstappen look-alike used by supermarket Picnic in their commercial could also be considered a portrait of Verstappen.

6. Even if only a small part of the face is visible?

Yes, even a small part of a face can be a portrait. If the person is still recognisable, for example, through other elements in the photo, then it is still a portrait. In 2015, a judge ruled that a photo that only featured Dutch football coach Louis van Gaal’s chin should still be considered a portrait of Van Gaal. As a result, advertiser Interbest was no longer allowed to use the photo.

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7. And what if the image only shows someone from behind?

It can still be a portrait even if you can only see someone from behind. Again, it’s about recognisability. In 2005 Dutch celebrity Katja Schuurman was the poster girl for Yellow Pages Competitor i-Local started advertising with a Schuurman look-alike, only shown from the back. But because of the context (including, amongst other things, a yellow page), it was clear that it referred to Katja and the Yellow Pages. According to the judge, this was also a ‘portrait’ of Schuurman.

8. When can you prohibit the publication of your portrait?

You can prohibit the publication of your portrait if you have a reasonable interest. A reasonable interest can, for example, be a privacy interest. If a newspaper runs an article about a nudist camp and accompanies this with a photo in which you are recognisable and eating a Cornetto at an ice cream stall, then you probably have a reasonable (privacy) interest in prohibiting publication. But also if your photo is used without permission for example in an advertisement for a product you don’t want to be associated with, there may be a reasonable interest. This interest must always be weighed against the interest of the person publishing the portrait.

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9. Can a reasonable interest also be a commercial interest?

Yes, in addition to a privacy interest, someone can also have a commercial interest. This is especially relevant with well-known artists or athletes. If their portrait is used commercially without permission, the athlete or artist often has a commercial interest to object. After all, normally they receive money for promoting a product. In this case, they would have a reasonable commercial interest in taking action against this practice. For example, Dutch footballer Edgar Davids had the computer game Lucian ADC banned in 2017, for using a look-alike.

10. If my portrait is misused, what should I do?

Chiever’s advisers can answer your questions about portrait rights and can also assess whether your rights have been infringed. If this is the case, we can help you stop publication. If the other party doesn’t cooperate, only the court can ultimately force the other party to stop the publication.

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Do you have a question about portrait rights?

Is your portrait being abused? Do you want to prohibit a publication of your portrait? Or do you have another question about portrait rights? Then let Chiever advise you and contact us!

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