News & Commentary

New York Once Again Floats Right of Publicity Law

June 7, 2017 7:55 pm
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The New York Assembly introduced yet another right of publicity bill last week, Assembly Bill A08155. Such legislation is introduced almost every year in New York―focused on trying to add a post-mortem right which currently does not exist under New York law. Thus far, these bills have all...

Louisiana Right of Publicity Moves Forward

May 17, 2017 5:25 am
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The proposed “Allen Toussaint Legacy Act” has passed another hurdle in the Louisiana legislature. The bill passed the House last week and was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. The Act is named after the famed New Orleans musician, songwriter and producer, who died in 2015. The...

Warhol Foundation Claims Fair Use of Photographs of Dead Pop Star Prince

April 21, 2017 11:58 pm
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Oh, how the chickens come home to roost. In Comedy III v. Saderup, Inc., the California Supreme Court distinguished Andy Warhol’s celebrity portraits from those of Gary Saderup’s realistic portraits of The Three Stooges. Now this unconvincing and unpredictable distinction between Warhol’s celebrity portraits and those by other...

Copyright Law Blocks Student-Athlete Suit over Sale of Game Photos

April 6, 2017 3:38 am
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Today, the Ninth Circuit held in Maloney v. T3 Media that former collegiate athletes’ right of publicity claims arising out of the licensing of their photos by T3 Media were barred by copyright law. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court opinion in the case. Unfortunately, rather than...

Usher Sues Sony for Right of Publicity Violation for Use of Voice

October 13, 2016 4:28 am
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No, not that Usher. Jasmine Usher, a Georgia-based singer, is suing Sony Music and the band Travis Porter for the use of her voice on the hit song “Ayye Ladies”. The song reached number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200. Usher claims that her voice was recorded and...

Harris Faulkner Hamster Case Settles

October 7, 2016 10:21 pm
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No surprise here. As I predicted, Hasbro and Harris Faulkner have reached a settlement only a few months after a district court in New Jersey denied Habsro's motion to dismiss.  The claim that the toy hamster looked anything like the Fox news reporter was always a stretch, but...

Supreme Court Punts on O’Bannon v. NCAA

October 5, 2016 9:13 pm
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On Monday, the Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari in O'Bannon v. NCAA, a Ninth Circuit decision from September 2015. The decision upheld the application of antitrust laws to the NCAA. The decision in O'Bannon rested in part on the conclusion that the use of the players'...

Student Athletes Lose Sixth Circuit Appeal in Marshall v. ESPN

August 18, 2016 5:57 pm
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Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a short opinion affirming a Tennesse district court's dismissal of claims by student-athletes. Lead plaintiff Javon Marshall (pictured above), a Vanderbilt football player, and other college football and basketball players filed a class-action complaint alleging that television broadcasts of their...

The Hamster Case Continues as District Court Denies Hasbro’s Motion to Dismiss

July 26, 2016 4:22 am
harris faulkner and hasbro hamster right of publicity lawsuit motion to dismiss
A district court in New Jersey denied Hasbro's motion to dimiss Fox news reporter, Harris Faulkner's right of publicity claim.  I wrote earlier about Faulkner's lawsuit against Hasbro for naming its hamster toy Harris Faulkner.  The real-life Faulkner claims that the toy violates her right of publicity by...

Julia Child Foundation Sues Airbnb for Using Her Name

July 15, 2016 4:34 am
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I finally got my hands on the complaint that was filed a few weeks ago by the Julia Child Foundation in California Superior Court. The Foundation holds the rights to Julia Child's "intellectual property rights, including all rights of publicity." Julia Child is, of course, the famous "cooking...