Portrait rights

The popularity of celebrities such as artists, actors and athletes has a commercial value. They have the right to determine whether or not, and how, their portrait is commercially exploited. But, also less known individuals have portrait rights and in some cases can oppose commercial or other use of their portrait.


A portrait is not limited to a picture of a face, but can include other parts of the body as well. What matters is that the portrait can be identified as an individual person. It must be a recognisable image.

Opposition to use

If a portrait is used, the person portrayed can oppose the use thereof if he or she has a ‘reasonable interest’. This interest may either be personal a commercial. For famous people, their popularity itself makes the unauthorised use of a portrait in a commercial way unlawful. Personal interest may consist of the use of a portrait in a certain undesirable context. Less known Dutch individuals may therefore also oppose certain forms of portrait use.


The attorneys of GMW lawyers have experience in advising and litigating on portrait rights. In our experience, in many cases going to court can be prevented. Often an amicable settlement can be reached, especially if the unlawfulness of the publication is more or less clear, for example in case of unauthorised use of a photograph in a negative context with which the person depicted has no connection. In some cases, however, going to court cannot be avoided. A rectification or an injunction against further publishing can be claimed in proceedings as well as compensation for damages.

Further information

Do you have questions about portrait rights or would you like to discuss a case? Please contact the lawyers of our Company and Insolvency section.

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