Monday, December 19, 2011

Donald Rumsfeld, Spicy Peanuts and Christmas Miracles

This is one of those stories that is just begging for an avalanche of bad puns (are there any other kind?) and the authors of this Time article - about how Donald Rumsfeld's picture ended up on Tyrrell's spicy peanuts - have not held back. ("Whichever way you look at it, it's nuts.")

The one way they haven't looked at is from a publicity rights perspective.

Let's just say, to continue the double entendre, it is a Christmas miracle that someone didn't get sued or at least upbraided for this commercial use of a photograph of the former Chief of Staff on the peanut package by this cheeky UK snack company. It appears that their marketing director thought that if he licensed the image from Getty, he'd be all set. He says the use of Rumsfeld was coincidental, and one wonders if he even realized it was Rumsfeld in the photo from Getty (which limits the use of the photos it licenses, often restricting or charging a lot more for commercial uses, presumably to include royalty payments.)

I took a look at that particular image on Getty's site (wasn't hard to find, it was the only result under "Donald Rumsfeld and Geisha") - and noted this restriction: This image has no model or property release. Any commercial use requires additional clearance. "

Needless to say, if you read the Time article, nobody in Rumsfeld's camp (to say nothing of the Geisha) knew about this use. I guess Rumsfeld had a sense of humor...or vanity about the whole thing, and didn't press matters with Tyrrell or Getty... and the photographer may have already sacrificed any copyright interest he had as a government employee. All I'm saying is there's a whole lotta stuff that could have blown up on this one!

Merry Christmas Tyrrell, and Getty... I wouldn't try this at home!

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