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The Real Reason B.J. Novak's Face Is All Over Products Without His Consent

If you live in Uruguay and need some face paint, you might see a familiar face on the box. Ditto if you want a poncho in Greece or a Chinese electric razor. The same headshot of "The Office" actor and "The Premise" creator B.J. Novak adorns the packaging for all those items.

Something similar happened to Joey on "Friends." In Season 1's "The One Where Underdog Gets Away," Joey discovers that an old snap from his modeling days is being used as the face of venereal disease in New York City. The PSA is even blasted on a big screen in Times Square.

Many actors and comedians have odd jobs before they make it big — take Marvel star Simu Liu who was a stock photo model long before he was Shang-Chi. One could assume that writer/performer B.J. Novak was a model before he got his breakout role on "The Office." But Novak had the classic Harvard alum experience in Hollywood of almost immediately finding TV work post-Lampoon. Two years after graduating, he was on MTV's "Punk'd," per his IMDb. So if he was never a stock photo model, why is Novak's mug plastered on products across the globe?

Someone accidentally added Novak's face to a stock image database

B.J. Novak himself broke the story of his face's second life. In his Instagram story highlights, the actor explained that "Years ago someone mistakenly put an image of me on a public domain site, and now apparently I am on products all around the world."

This is a problem that could, ostensibly, be solved very easily. Actors and brands can be very protective of their images. Remember when Disney sued that daycare for their unlicensed Mickey Mouse mural? But it appears Novak is less litigious than the House of Mouse. "I am too amused to do anything about it," he said in his stories.

Novak may want to rethink his laissez-faire policy with regard to his image. As Snopes explained, Disney sued three Florida daycares because "unauthorized commercial use of trademarks must be contested in order to keep those trademarks intact." Basically, if Novak ever does object to the unlicensed use of his image, the opposing party can site these IG stories as precedent. "Hey, you said this poncho was okay," they could say, "but now that you're the face of VD in Times Square, you have a problem?" Legally, it could be dicey. But for now, it's just funny.