News & Analysis

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...

Amazon Beats Right of Publicity Claim for Use of Photograph on Book Cover

November 29, 2017 7:32 pm
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Last week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Roe v. Amazon held that booksellers, and Barnes & Noble (among others) could not be held liable for violating the privacy and publicity rights of a couple whose image was used without permission on the cover of an...

Company that Owns Muhammad Ali sues Fox over Tribute to Late Boxer

October 10, 2017 10:56 pm
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The company that owns and manages former boxing great Muhammad Ali's right of publicity and trademarks has sued Fox Broadcasting in federal district court in Illinois. The complaint filed today claims that Fox's broadcast of a memorial to Muhammad Ali leading up to the broadcast of the 2017...

Major Victory for Fantasy Sports against College Athletes

October 6, 2017 11:17 pm
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Last week while a California trial court let the right of publicity run roughshod over the First Amendment in a case involving a docudrama, an Indiana district court in Daniels v. Fanduel rejected the right of publicity claims brought by former NCAA football players, Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily,...

The Plot (and Feud) Thickens

October 4, 2017 5:55 pm
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On Friday, a California superior court agreed with two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland that her lawsuit against FX Networks could proceed. FX had sought to put a swift end to her lawsuit arising out of her portrayal in the network’s critically acclaimed miniseries, Feud. The series chronicled...

Jazz Great Thelonious Monk’s Heir Objects to Brother Thelonious Beer

August 31, 2017 9:51 pm
thelonious monk v. north coast brewery six pack right of publicity lawsuit
Earlier this week, Thelonious Monk, Jr. filed a lawsuit against North Coast Brewing Co. in the federal district court of California for allegedly using his father, the great jazz musician Thelonious Monk’s name, likeness, and image on its beer labels, for its brand name, and in advertising and...