Since former President Donald J. Trump’s booking photo was released on August 24, it has appeared on merch all across the internet. Professor Susan Scafidi spoke with the New York Times on the subject.
Susan Scafidi, the founder of the Fashion Law Institute, said that federal law does not protect the right to publicize your own likeness — albeit in some cases “protection against false endorsement or association may apply.”
“Trump could, in theory, attempt to shut down sales of merch with his mug shot,” Ms. Scafidi said, “not unlike the way Obama objected to appearing on a Weatherproof Garment Company billboard, but I suspect his legal team is busy with other matters.”
Besides, she continued, “the U.S. Copyright Act excludes from protection any works created by the federal government, but not state or local governments, so technically the state of Georgia owns the photo, subject to fair use limitations.” In any case, neither concern appears to have stopped anyone.