News & Commentary

Yale Brainstorming Workshop on How to Fix the Right of Publicity

October 19, 2015 11:37 pm
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This weekend I took part in an all-day workshop at Yale Law School, sponsored by the Information Society Project and the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression. Some of the leading right of publicity and First Amendment litigators and scholars in the country were present. The workshop operated...

EA Files Cert. Petition in Davis v. Electronic Arts

October 8, 2015 2:51 am
On Monday, EA filed a Petition seeking Supreme Court review in Davis v. Electronic Arts, 775 F.3d 1172 (9th Cir. 2015).  The video game maker asks the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit and hold that the use of realistic depictions of people in expressive works, including...

Aretha Franklin Gets Documentary Film Pulled from Film Festivals

October 6, 2015 7:25 pm
A lawsuit filed by famous recording artist, Aretha Franklin, against a documentary filmmaker, Allan Elliott, led to the pulling of his documentary film, “Amazing Grace,” from the line-ups at numerous prestigious film festivals, including Telluride and Toronto.  Ms. Franklin claims that the film violated her right of publicity...

Decision in O’Bannon v. NCAA Provides Right of Publicity Edge to the NCAA

October 6, 2015 7:18 pm
The Ninth Circuit’s decision last week upholding the application of antitrust laws to the NCAA, has several implications for student-athletes and their rights of publicity.  The appellate court’s holding that the NCAA could retain its rules requiring students to remain amateur means that student-athletes cannot receive compensation for...

Character in WOLF OF WALL STREET Does Not Violate Real Person’s Publicity Rights

October 6, 2015 7:09 pm
On September 30, 2015, a federal district court in New York dismissed a right of publicity claim brought by former Stratton Oakmont employee, Andrew Greene.  Greene was featured in convicted felon Jordan Belfort's memoir upon which the Martin Scorsese movie was based. The movie, however, did not use...

Student-Athletes Lose Right of Publicity Claim for Licensed Use of NCAA Photographs

October 1, 2015 5:04 pm
On March 6, 2015, a district court in California held that the student-athletes claims against T3Media for its Paya.com website were preempted by copyright law.  The NCAA gaver T3Media permission to display and sell photographs of NCAA athletes.  In an opinion that only adds to the confusion over...

Plaintiffs in Sex Trafficking case Lose First Round in Right of Publicity Claim Against Backpage

September 28, 2015 5:13 pm
A case involving the use of Backpage to facilitate sex trafficking and prostitution and privacy-based misappropriation claims under Rhode Island and Massachusetts laws was rejected by a Massachusetts district court on May 15, 2015 and is now pending appeal in the First Circuit. Doe ex rel Roe v....

South Dakota Passes Right of Publicity Statute into Law

September 28, 2015 5:10 pm
On March 19, 2015, South Dakota’s governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill that establishes a right of publicity in the state.  The bill was spearheaded by the family of Russell Means, a Native American activist and actor. S. D. Codified Laws § 21-64 et seq.

Federal Court in Tennessee rejects student-athletes’ right of publicity claim against ESPN for game broadcasts

September 28, 2015 5:08 pm
In June of 2015, a district court in Tennessee rejected a class action claim by student-athletes that their rights of publicity were being violated by the broadcast of collegiate games.  The court held that the use of their names and likenesses in the context of the broadcasts was...

Alabama’s New Right of Publicity Statute Goes Into Effect and Threatens Free Speech

September 28, 2015 5:25 am
Alabama's Right of Publicity Act went into effect on August 1, 2015.  It is not yet clear what effect the law will have on the common law rights in the state.  Of most concern is the expansive language of the statute which includes both for-profit and non-profit uses...