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  • Writer's pictureAmobi Okugo

3 Things Athletes Can Get Sued For Trying To Build A Brand

Lebron James and Deshaun Watson were recently sued for copyright infringement for the use of photos on Instagram by the original photographers. Something as simple as taking a screenshot of a picture of you or reposting a tagged photo can get you sued as an athlete. As an athlete on social media platforms, you are trying to build a brand. Using pictures, music, promotions, etc are all ways to increase your engagement and build a larger fan base. However, by doing that you can also be putting yourself at risk for potential lawsuits.

As professional athletes, you have to understand that people are constantly going to be after you. You have a target on your back whether you like it or not. For this reason, it’s important to go over 3 things athletes can potentially get sued for when trying to build a brand so they can avoid any traps.


If you don’t have clearance from the photographer of the photo you are posting, you are liable to get sued. As we spoke about earlier, Deshaun Watson was recently sued for posting photos on his Instagram without the photographer’s approval. Leagues have signed deals with different platforms to help combat this issue but as an athlete, it’s hard to not just tag a photo and repost it if you were already tagged in it or it was shared to you beforehand through other mechanisms.

If you are trying to grow your brand and using any video/photo content, it’s important you lay out who has the rights to the content. That is why some athletes have invested in their own camera and film crews to avoid this possibility. A cheaper way is to make sure you only use photos that have been cleared and uploaded by your team.


Did you know using music in your video content without paying for the license can result in a possible lawsuit? Athletes have made a cautious effort to create YouTube platforms and IG video content to give more interaction for their fans. Sometimes this content contains popular music to help spice up the content. If you don’t go through the right protocols however you can get in big trouble for essentially stealing music. While it's not as common to get in trouble using music as it is pictured, there is still a possibility depending on the artist.

False Advertisements

As an influencer, you have a responsibility to disclose information about the products and brands you promote and endorse. You are responsible to be completely honest and share information to the best of your ability to give consumers the best possible answer in helping them make an informed decision and not just one based on your testimony. From whether a campaign was a sponsored post to even saying sharing the details if you have terminated a brand endorsement. As an athlete, people are reliant on your promotions. If one unhappy customer claims your commercial or claim affected their decision, they can try and sue you for false advertisements. That’s why as an athlete it’s vital to support things that you trust and believe in.


This article was written and provided as a courtesy of Amobi Okugo, a pro-soccer player and founder of A Frugal Athlete (AFA), an online media and consulting platform that promotes prudent financial practices and smart career decisions amongst professional and student-athletes. AFA offers services like financial coaching, revenue generation, and ideation strategy. Visit their website for further information.


Are You ready for Name, Image, and Likeness? Order the book, Athletes Making Moves, so you are educated on how to identify your name, image, and likeness, profit from it, and protect it.

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