Brand or Identity theft - Legal discussion

Serious question about leveraging other people’s brands to promote your services.

Let’s say that you want to email 100,000 people about your new business podcast.

Obviously, if someone like GaryVee would promote it for you inside the email, you would get way better results.

So what if you add a photo of GaryVee, and say something like, Hey my friend “name” just opened a new podcast, is freaking amazing, check it out.

This is something that I thought on the spot, but there are definitely ways of manipulating someone’s identity and using it as leverage, without exactly stipulating that Gary is the one sending the email.

Does anyone know or at least have a strong opinion about what could happen if this goes viral?

Firstly sending out 100k Emails is Illegal in some Countries so the first point which you should think of is that Is sending 100k Emails legal in your Country? Though there are ways to stay anonymous but you should take this point into consideration.

Secondly,I personally don’t think Gary Vee would care or take any legal actions against this as lot of them have been using his photos without his permission which actually is an identity theft in some or the other way.

But I think unless you become too big this way or you earned a lot by identity theft and some clickbait,No one would personally care to take legal actions against you.Unless you copy someone’s brand or identity theft and earn big in an illegal way so they would take some actions,Neither any brand or any Big Identity would care unless you aren’t in the spotlight.


“Firstly sending out 100k Emails is Illegal in some Countries” - Yes I was offering a purely hypothetical example.

“Neither any brand or any Big Identity would care unless you aren’t in the spotlight.”

That’s exactly what I’ve asked, what would happen if you would get into the spotlight. What would happen if you would go viral. Ofc if nobody sees it, nobody cares.

It would probably go into both civil law (defamation, unfair competition) and criminal law (electronic spam) direction. Civil law can get quite expensive for you depending on how deep the pockets of the other side are. Regarding spamming & impersonation, the competition can sue you for “unfair competition” which might also become really expensive. Especially some of those violations in combination can make things ugly quite fast.

As an example: Selling Drugs VS Selling drugs with possession of an illegal firearm. Big time differences, especially for the judge.

As @aman1809 pointed out, you would need to check the laws in your country. This will probably give you the best overview. Consult a local lawyer in digital matters, they will give you a better overview of the risk vs reward.

My personal recommendation would be to only do those things if you have no other choice. There are quite a lot of other good ways to make revenue that do not require you to break civil and criminal laws.


You would be looking at civil liability through the unauthorized appropriation of name and likeness CoA. This type of tort is covered differently depending on the state of domicile of the person you suggested the endorsement of.

In federal law, you may be liable for a claim under 15 U.S. Code S 1125 which includes injunctive relief as well as damages.

Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard ruled first amendment rights would not cover what you are looking to do as commercial intent nullifies that right.

You would have to prove an artistic reason to use image or likeness. That comes from an EA Sports suit but I don’t remember the plaintiff off the top of my head.

Conclusion is: Bad idea in the US, probably a bad idea everywhere else, probably won’t work either.

Not an attorney, does not constitute legal advice, retain your own counsel.

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Thank you guys so much for this! Much appreciated!

@HenryCooper never thought about the combination…you are right, it can get super dangerous really fast.

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