News & Commentary

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 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...

Ninth Circuit Denies Rehearing in Davis v. Electronic Arts

September 28, 2015 4:25 am
The Ninth Circuit denied rehearing in its controversial decision in Davis v. Electronic Arts that the use of real professional athletes identities in a video game was not protected by the First Amendment.  This decision leaves at risk numerous expressive and nonfiction works that include portrayals of historical...

Artwork sold by Target to celebrate the civil rights movement is itself a target – of a right of publicity claim by Rosa Parks’ estate.

September 25, 2015 6:32 am
A case filed in Alabama, but decided by the district court under Michigan law, where Ms. Parks died, claims that Target’s celebratory plaques that include Parks’ image, as well as that of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. may infringe Rosa Park’s right of publicity. The district court held...

New York Introduces Post-Mortem Right Of Publicity Bill

September 24, 2015 10:07 pm
In May of 2015, the New York Assembly and Senate both introduced bills that would add a post-mortem right of publicity to New York’s law.  The proposed term would be seventy years.  The bill provides a number of enumerated exceptions for expressive works, but it is still hotly...