Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Using Amazon Reviewer Quotes on Product

Dear Rich: Can I use the text and names of people who review my product on Amazon? I'd like to put it on our product packaging. The short is answer is 'No.' Even though the reviewer has given Amazon the right to reproduce the content and reviewer's name under Amazon's Conditions of Use*, they haven't given you the same rights. Using the review without permission could open your company up to a claim of violation of the right of publicity or copyright infringement. We normally might not be this paranoid, but companies that sell products are easy targets and the last thing you would want is to recall your packaging in order to accommodate a court order.
Possible workarounds?
Some possible workarounds are to contact the reviewer (usually, there's a way to communicate if you click on the reviewer's name) for permission (an email permission should be fine). If that's not possible, using one or two lines from the review is probably permissible under fair use principles -- although, again, the Dear Rich Staff would counsel against using the reviewer's name without permission. 
*Speaking of Amazon's Conditions of Use ... You might want to think twice before posting a bad review of that new Lindsay Lohan movie. As an Amazon reviewer, you agree to pay for Amazon's court costs and damages if a lawsuit is filed as a result of your comments! Ouch!