Letters Submitted in Opposition to Proposed New York Right of Publicity Bill

By Jennifer E. Rothman
June 9, 2017

Today, I submitted a letter opposing the current draft of a "right of publicity" bill being rushed through the New York legislature before it closes up shop for the summer. Since my earlier post about the bill SAG-AFTRA has proposed adding language that would eviscerate the exemptions in the bill making it even more urgent to stop this bill from being adopted without debate and significant revisions. It is not clear that New York needs such a right of publicity law, but if it adopts one it needs much more thought. 

The proposed SAG-AFTRA language would limit exemptions from liability (including in expressive works like movies, books, songs, and videogames) if the use infringes "upon traditionally licensed commercial uses; or replace professional performance or modeling services rendered in the entertainment or sports industries; or replicate the same activity by which the individual achieved their fame or derives their income.”

I continue to be confounded by SAG-AFTRA's missing the downsides of this bill for its own members from the dangers of transferability to estate taxes to disadvantaging the less successful of its members.

Other letters opposing the bill have been lodged by the National Press Photographers Association, and the Digital Media Licensing Association. More are likely to be lodged soon...

Letter of Professor Jennifer E. Rothman in Opposition to Proposed New York Right of Publicity Assembly Bill A08155