News & Commentary

Student-Athletes File Appeal in Marshall v. ESPN

October 21, 2015 6:01 pm
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The student-athlete plaintiffs in Marshall have filed their opening brief in their appeal to the Sixth Circuit.  The Tennessee district court had earlier rejected the claim that television broadcasts of collegiate games violated the players’ rights of publicity under Tennessee law.  The brief contends that the district court...

Playboy Playmates Sue Strip Club for Using Their Images

October 21, 2015 5:33 pm
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Successful Playboy models, Tiffany Selby, Irina Voronina, and Joanna Krupa, have sued a New York strip club, Café Royale, for using their images to promote the venue.  The models complaint includes claims for right of publicity violations (under New York Civil Rights Law §§ 50-51), false endorsement under...

Beyonce, Pharrell, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West Sue Over Use of their Images and Names on Merchandise

October 20, 2015 12:06 am
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These megastars sued Eleven LLC for using their names and images in a variety of merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, and cell phone covers. Some of the images evoked Hitler and some of the items used lyrics from the artists’ songs. The plaintiffs’ complaint includes claims for violations of...

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....