News & Commentary

Louisiana Reintroduces Right of Publicity Bill

March 9, 2018 12:16 am
louisiana toussaint bill right of publicity legislation pending
On February 28, 2018, Louisiana reintroduced a draft right of publicity bill titled the Allen Toussaint Legacy Act. I have written about efforts to pass such a bill in Lousiana previously.  Those efforts thus far have failed. The new bill is currently with the Committee on Civil Law...

Seventh Circuit Certifies Question to Indiana Supreme Court in Fantasy Sports Case

March 7, 2018 7:34 pm
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Today, the Seventh Circuit with lightening speed issued an opinion in the Daniels v. Fanduel case seeking guidance from the Supreme Court of Indiana. The case, which I have previously written about, involves a lawsuit by former college football players against online fantasy-sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings. An...

New York Times Article on De Havilland Case

March 6, 2018 7:05 pm
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Paul Brownfield's article on Olivia de Havilland's lawsuit against FX Network was published in Sunday's New York Times Style Section. It has a wonderful interview with Ms. de Havilland that explains more about her views on the lawsuit. It also has some commentary from me related to the...

L.A. Times Op-Ed: What Does Olivia de Havilland Have Against Allison Janney?

March 1, 2018 7:13 pm
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My op-ed on the Olivia de Havilland v. FX Networks lawsuit, currently on appeal in California, has been published by the Los Angeles Times and will appear in Sunday's print edition just in time for this year's Oscar's ceremony.  If de Havilland succeeds, movies that tell unuathorized stories...

“Simpsonized” Animated Character Held Transformative

February 15, 2018 8:09 pm
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Earlier this week, the California Court of Appeal gave a Valentine’s Day present to Twentieth Century Fox, by throwing out a right of publicity lawsuit brought by Frank Sivero. Sivero, a film actor, best known for his work playing mafiosos, objected to a recurring character in the animated...

Thelonious Monk Estate Survives Motion to Dismiss by Brewery

February 2, 2018 12:17 am
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Yesterday, a federal district court in California rejected North Coast Brewing Co's motion to dismiss the right of publicity and false endorsement claims brought by the estate of Thelonious Monk. The estate objects to the company's use of jazz legend Monk's name and likeness on its Brother Thelonious...

Briefs Rain Down on California Court of Appeal in De Havilland Case

January 26, 2018 9:38 pm
MPAA SAG IDA and others amicus briefs de havilland right of publicity lawsuit
At least five separate amicus briefs have been filed in the expedited appeal in Olivia de Havilland v. FX Networks. I filed an amicus in this case with a number of other law professors in support of FX Networks. We argue that the First Amendment protects the use...

Law Professors Call for Reversal in De Havilland and the Protection of Biographies and Biographical Films

January 25, 2018 9:47 pm
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Yesterday, I filed a brief co-authored with Rebecca Tushnet and Eugene Volokh asking the California Court of Appeal to reverse the trial court’s decision in De Havilland v. FX Networks as to the right of publicity claim. The case, first filed at the end of June last year,...

Fox Moves for a TKO in Lawsuit Brought by Muhammad Ali Estate

January 18, 2018 9:56 pm
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Earlier this week Fox filed motions for judgment on the pleadings and an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike in the case brought last fall against it for airing a tribute to the recently deceased boxing great Muhammad Ali before its broadcast of the 2017 Superbowl. I previously expressed the...

Whitney Houston Estate Settles with IRS over Right of Publicity Valuation

January 5, 2018 10:27 pm
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The Whitney Houston estate and the IRS have settled their dispute over the value of the Grammy award-winner’s estate. The more than $11 million dollar disagreement in the amount of taxes owed centered on the valuation of Houston’s intellectual property rights, and particularly the value of her postmortem...