News & Analysis

Bride and Groom Sue Wedding Photographer

October 27, 2015 4:58 am
A married couple sued their wedding photographer, not for bad photos, but for violating their rights of publicity by using their wedding photos in promotional brochures. The couple explicitly opted out of allowing the use of their photographs other than for their own personal use. The couple retained...

8th Circuit Appears Divided in Dryer v. NFL Oral Arguments

October 27, 2015 1:37 am
The oral arguments from last Thursday’s hearing before the 8th Circuit in Dryer highlight a host of flashpoints in right of publicity law. The arguments focused on whether the use of historical film clips constituted commercial speech.  The plaintiffs’ attorney claimed that the use by the NFL was...

Student-Athletes File Appeal in Marshall v. ESPN

October 21, 2015 6:01 pm
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
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
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
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...