Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sports Card Mystery – Why do some sets blur out the faces of spectators in the background and other sets don’t

The most amazing thing that I noticed about the NBA Hoops Jeremy Lin card is the distinct faces that appear in the background. Those individuals are easily identifiable and I wonder if they realized that they starred on a basketball card. However, over the years I realize card manufacturers more often and than not try to blot out or blur the background faces that appear on card. Now because of the proliferation of sets, I am unable to do an in depth analysis of which sets do and which sets don’t blur out the background faces. Basketball cards because of the close nature of the fans are the cards most likely to show faces in the crowd. I specifically remember the NBA Hoops sets from the mid 1990s that blurred out the background faces of fans on cards. Why did they do it. There may be legal reasons. I don’t know if today’s tickets to games mention to fans that there image may be used on television or sports leagues promotional literature. I don’t believe fans going to a game deny the leagues permission to use their image in any type at televised event. However, Sport Cards are more long lasting. I don’t know if I have ever heard of a law suit from a fan because he appeared on a sports card. This could be a possibility because leagues and card manufacturers sell their product for a profit and the fans images are in the background. But the fans are not the obvious reason why the card are being sold, I guess the fans image would be considered incidental. If it is not for legal reasons could it be just esthetic reasons that some sets have the fans faces blurred out.

1 comment:

  1. I seem to recall this discussion before. Or maybe I ran it through my head when you first made this post and now that I'm finally going back and filling in my thoughts it seems like someone else's conversation.

    I'm pretty sure today's tickets have legalese about consenting to image use. Even theme parks (Six Flags, etc) have that language. I'm not sure how that applies to cards, and there could be other reasons as well. I know when I take pictures I like to find a shot that has a clear focus, and having many faces in the background draws from that focus. In the Lin card above, his head isn't much larger than the others, which makes him stuck in a crowd.

    Honestly, you're probably right about the legal issues of showing someone's image without permission, especially in a non-news for-profit environment, though the person is just incidentally there and certainly nobody's buying the Lin card above for the headphone guy (except maybe the headphone guy himself).