Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can We Reproduce Covers of Magazines

Dear Rich: Quick question, which I'd be hugely grateful if you could answer. My company is launching a magazine on the subject of marketing. One of the news stories in the mag talks about how luxury print advertising is expected to increase this year. We've included a quote from a publisher who talks about how some of their household name magazines are experiencing good success. I'd like to know if it's OK to illustrate our editorial feature with some images of the front covers of the magazines referenced in the story.  There are a few questions that should be asked when someone reproduces a magazine cover:
1. Are you infringing the magazine's trademark?  In your case, no, because you are using it for editorial purposes (as we explained in this post).
2. If there is a person on the cover, are you violating that person's right of publicity? Not based on your use (give thanks to Joe Namath).
3. Are you violating the magazine's copyright by reproducing the cover without permission? Yes, reproduction without permission is infringement. However, you're likely to be excused as a fair use because you're commenting on the magazine and especially if the reproduction is a reduced or thumbnail size (as we discussed in a previous entry).
P.S. Considering the popular definition for "quick question," perhaps we should all reconsider its future use.