News & Commentary

Class Action by Lawyers Against Website with Attorney Profiles

December 4, 2015 10:56 pm
AVVO logo right of publicity suit by lawyers
A class action has been filed on behalf of California attorneys against the website Avvo, a service that provides attorney profiles sometimes without the attorneys' consent. Avvo collects public information about various attorneys such as name, specialities, years in practice and firm information and provides that information in...

REVISED — L.A. Court Allows Reese Witherspoon to Proceed with Right of Publicity Claim Against Jeweler

December 2, 2015 11:56 pm
Reese Witherspoon engagement ring right of publicity suit
(Revised to reflect final court order) On Tuesday, a court ruled that Reese Witherspoon could proceed with her right of publicity claims against a number of defendants who had used her name and image to sell various products, particularly jewelery.  One company allegedly named an engagement ring, Reese,...

First Amendment Protects Use of Videogamer’s Likeness in Cartoon Network Animated Series

November 24, 2015 9:12 pm
regular show cartoon network billy mitchell right of publicity lawsuit
Billy Mitchell, a well-known videogame player with world records for classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, sued Cartoon Network for allegedly using his likeness for a character in The Regular Show. The animated comedy series follows two animals, a blue jay and a raccoon.  In one...

Seventh Circuit Rejects Claims Against College Board by Private Individuals for Sale of Personal Information

November 20, 2015 6:34 pm
ACT SAT right of publicity and privacy suit seventh circuit
On Wednesday, the Seventh Circuit held in Silha v. ACT, Inc. (7th Cir. 2015) that students who had taken the ACT and SAT did not have standing to sue for the alleged sale of their personal information. The Seventh Circuit pointed to the fact that even though the use...

Some Wyoming Legislators Want to Resurrect Privacy Bill and Send to Voters

November 19, 2015 9:30 pm
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports today that the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivision Interim Committee voted to sponsor a bill that would allow voters to pass a privacy amendment to the state constitution.  Such an amendment was rejected by the state Senate in January of...

Article in Virginia Law Review Documents Expansive Reach of the Right of Publicity

November 19, 2015 6:56 pm
Right of Publicity article jennifer rothman virginia law review logo commercial speech commercial use and the intellectual property quagmire
My latest article, Commercial Speech, Commercial Use and the Intellectual Property Quagmire, is in print this week in the Virginia Law Review. The article considers the role in intellectual property laws of commercial speech doctrine and considerations of commerciality more generally (usually in the sense of a use that...

More Musicians Object to Uses of their Music in Political Campaigns

November 19, 2015 3:36 am
right of publicity claim versus Huckabee for eye of tiger copyright
Today, Rude Music filed a complaint in a federal district court in Illinois for the use of the song “Eye of the Tiger” by Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The song by the band Survivor was the theme song in the movie Rocky III which topped the charts at...

An Image Protection Service Sues LA Jewelry Store for Using Former Playboy Model’s Likeness

November 9, 2015 11:57 pm
Timed Out Tiffany Toth Right of Publicity Complaint against LA Girl Jewelry
Timed Out LLC, a California company, that advertises its image protection services to models has sued LA Girl Jewelry for using Tiffany Toth's image and likeness in its advertisements. The complaint alleges that Toth assigned her right to sue to Timed Out. This complaint is another in the...

Constitutional Law and Intellectual Property Law Professors Call on Supreme Court to Review Davis

November 4, 2015 9:53 pm
Supreme Court Davis v EA right of publicity cert petition
Professor Eugene Volokh (UCLA) and I filed a brief today in support of granting certiorari in Davis v. Electronic Arts. The brief was signed on to by many leading constitutional law and IP law scholars. We call on the Supreme Court to address the disarray among lower courts...

Another Biopic lawsuit – This Time Straight Outta Compton

November 3, 2015 2:25 am
Heller v NBC Universal Straight Outta Compton Right of Publicity Complaint
With success often comes lawsuits and the movie Straight Outta Compton is no exception. On Friday, the music manager Jerry Heller sued NBC Universal and others involved with the film claiming that the character in the film played by actor Paul Giamatti misappropriates his identity by using his...